So what’s behind the propensity for floods in Ellicott City? Part of the problem is its vulnerable location: the town lies at the foot of a hill where river branches meet the Patapsco River. And, of course, climate change makes storms wetter and increases the frequency of severe, record-breaking weather. But there’s another thing people are pointing out: concrete. When hard, impermeable concrete replaces absorbent green spaces, it’s much easier for floodwaters to overwhelm stormwater drainage.
Tomorrow, June 12, Longmont City Council will hear from Riverset, LLC., owners of 21 S. Sunset Street, on their proposal that the City annex their property. The property, which is approximately 21 acres formerly owned and mined by Aggregate Industries, lies east of Roger’s Grove and south of St. Vrain Creek. Although the property did not flood during the September 2013 flood event, it is considered to be within the flood plain.
Riverset LLC. plans to develop the property as a mixed use commercial area. However, there are no concrete plans yet on what that might look like. Given the proximity to both Roger’s Grove and St. Vrain Creek, as well as its position within the flood plain, Stand With Our St. Vrain Creek is watching this development closely.
Appeal hearing for Martin Marietta Materials Inc. permit that was scheduled for Wednesday, June 6, has been cancelled.
You can find out more information regarding new hearing date here.
In 1998, Boulder County approved a special use permit to allow gravel mining on 881 acres of property owned by Western Mobile in the St. Vrain River Valley east of Lyons. River valleys are often targeted for gravel mining due to the accumulation of gravel and other sediments that build up in floodplains.
In 2011, the land was sold to Martin Marietta Materials Inc., which is now seeking to continue gravel mining operations on the property. Included with the mines, they’re also planning to build a number of accessory structures within the 100 year flood plain of St. Vrain Creek.
The special use permit included a clause that the permit will lapse if no activity authorized under the permit has been conducted for a continuous period of 5 years or more. On April 11, 2018, Boulder County ruled that the permit is still valid. However, prior to the onset of mining operations, the Boulder County Board of Adjustment must hold public hearings on the proposal.
The first of such public hearings is scheduled for Wednesday, June 6, 2018. The appeal hearing begins at 4:00 PM at the Commissioner’s Hearing Room, 1325 Pearl St., Boulder, CO 80302.
You can find more information about the public hearing here.
Gravel mining on St. Vrain Creek upstream of Longmont would likely increase the risk of flooding, both within the city and in surrounding areas downstream, which would completely defeat the purpose of the Resilient St. Vrain flood mitigation project that Longmont is currently undertaking. This 2014 conference paper by Anthony R. Ladson and Dean A. Judd explains the short and long-term risks of floodplain gravel mining, particularly the likelihood that such mining may alter the flow of flood water and change river channels. As stated in the paper:
A literature review found 37 examples where rivers had broken into gravel mines and the resulting river response had led to bed and bank erosion and threats to infrastructure.
A river is likely to jump tracks into a gravel pond because water follows the path of least resistance. When this happens, it increases the likelihood of damage. In 2013, this was perfectly illustrated when St. Vrain Creek diverted through the former gravel pits at Pella Crossing Open Space in Hygiene as described in this Times Call letter to the editor by Richard Cargill.
Please consider attending the public hearing on Wednesday, June 6 to voice your concerns regarding Martin Marietta’s gravel mining operation.
As part of the process to update its Open Space Master Plan, the City of Longmont conducted a survey earlier this year to get feedback on community priorities with regards to open space. The City sent out a survey invite to random Longmont residents as well as allowed people who weren’t selected for the survey to respond to the survey questions on the City’s website.
Survey results have now been posted. Of the top 10 findings of the survey, a majority of survey respondents believe additional open space properties should be acquired to keep pace with population growth. Most respondents also believe that the most important function of open space is to protect natural areas from development, and that it is important to preserve wildlife habitat (including rivers, creeks, riparian corridors, and wetlands).
According to an interview with former FEMA director Craig Fugate, some of the most populous areas of Colorado, including Boulder County, are likely to see more and worse flooding as a result of the current drought. Fugate points to Fort Collins’ program to buy up land in the flood plain as green space as one way to protect against flood damage to homes and businesses.
Thanks to everyone who dropped by our booth this past Saturday for Longmont’s Earth Day celebration! Here are a few pictures from the event.
Longmont’s Planning and Zoning Commission will be holding a public hearing on the updates to the Land Development Code on April 25th at 7pm at the Civic Center (350 Kimbark Street). Please consider attending and speaking in favor of protecting our riparian corridors and Open Space.
Though the sections on habitat and riparian protections are not being updated at this time so their updates coincide with the revamp of the City’s Wildlife Management Plan, the section of the code involving public notification regarding developments IS being updated. Because ALL Longmont residents benefit from the St. Vrain corridor and the City’s Open Space, ALL Longmont residents should be notified when a development application is submitted for a property adjacent to the St. Vrain or City Open Space and not just those residents living within 1000 feet of the proposed development.
If you don’t wish to speak or can’t make it to the P&Z meeting on Wednesday, please submit comments ahead of time via email or by calling 303-651-8330.
The City of Longmont is holding 2 public meetings tonight on the proposed updates to the City’s Land Development Code. The two meetings, which will be identical in content, are being held at the Longmont Museum’s classroom at 400 Quail Road from 3:30pm to 5:00pm and 6:00pm to 7:30pm.
While the update to the Land Development Code doesn’t include changes to the sections of the code dealing with species protection and riparian setbacks, please consider attending one of the two meetings, or sending in comments, urging the City to strengthen these provisions. It is particularly important that they hear from YOU that the 150 foot riparian setback must be retained.
Comments can be sent to the Planning & Development Services Department at 303-651-8330 or via email at email@example.com.