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Elizabethtown is considering a policy on maintenance of neighborhood-level subdivision basins.
The review comes after repeated requests from property owners for the city to undertake maintenance duties for smaller basins, said Robert Bush, director of stormwater management.
Bush brought his concern to Elizabethtown City Council earlier this week, asking officials for guidance and stressing the need for a formal policy that could better respond to the requests.
Council members charged Bush with investigating how other cities in the state deal with basins. Bush said he plans to look at policies in Lexington and Louisville as well as “peer” cities of comparable size.
“We’ll get a handle on what they’re doing (and) then try to craft a policy of our own,” Bush said.
The research, he said, may yield no action by the city because a policy may prove too unwieldy, but Bush envisions a plan that would establish a size threshold for basins to meet before the city would consider taking over maintenance. Bush said practically all subdivisions built in the past 20 years include one of these basins, constructed to deal with stormwater in corresponding neighborhoods.
Bush’s office has identified as many as 80 spots where basins could be throughout the city, but it is possible only half would fit the qualifications for city maintenance, he said.
“We’d have to do a full inventory before we could answer that question, but there’s quite a few,” he said of the total numbers of subdivision basins.
The city develops and maintains larger regional basins but has left smaller basins in the hands of others, Bush said.
The subdivision basins are maintained by developers, homeowner’s associations or private property owners in almost all instances, he said.
When property owners ask the city to take over maintenance, it is usually because they do not understand the level of care and potential costs basins could bring or simply cannot maintain the basins on their own, Bush said. In some cases, property owners may purchase a plot and find a portion of the basin lies on their property. If severe problems occur and costs must be split between multiple property owners, it can turn out to be prohibitive, he said.
Mowing is the primary element of maintaining subdivision basins, but Bush said other scenarios could arise that need attention, such as erosion on the sides and bottom of the basin, outlet failures or pipe damage.
If a problem surfaced that endangered the public good, the city would recognize the need to assist property owners, Bush said
During Monday’s meeting, Bush said other cities must deal with the same issue because they evolve and populations grow over time. By researching the issue thoroughly, he said, Elizabethtown may find something is missing in the way it is approaching the subject.
Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 or firstname.lastname@example.org.