Developers get chance to speak on stormwater ordinance

Published 1:09 pm Saturday, April 5, 2014

FRANKLIN—Mayor Raystine Johnson-Ashburn deferred a vote on a city stormwater management ordinance to give businesses a chance to share thoughts on it.

“Would April slow your timeline down?” she asked, and when Community Development Director Donald Goodwin said it would not, the mayor stated, “I say that because I notice there are no developers or contractors here. I think comments from that community would help, and maybe if they have time to soak it in, they can come back and address their concerns in citizens time.”

City Manager Randy Martin added that the ordinance is a mandate that they cannot change, even if they did have concerns.

“Well, it would be good for them to know that, understand the ordinance, and it will give them time to absorb it,” Johnson-Ashburn said.

Goodwin said some highlights of the new ordinance are that it increases inspection control on the local level, which will allow them to create a more consistent approval process. Goodwin said this would be a local economic development advantage, and it would also allow for greater protection of natural resources. On the state end, it allows them to focus on oversight, technical assistance and training.

The way stormwater is treated will also be different. The Department of Environmental Quality’s new approach will focus on water quality control plus phosphorus control, said Dan Rountree, environmental specialist with the Department of Community Development.

Instead of stormwater ponds, the new system will instead try to mimic natural hydrology, he said. Rountree added that it will be small scale, and will look more like ditches, with plants in them with roots that naturally absorb pollutants, such as phosphorus, in an effort to decrease the amount of runoff going to receiving streams.

The current ponds in Franklin would still be around unless there was a redevelopment, Rountree said.

Ward 3 Councilor Greg McLemore was concerned with this potentially causing flooding.

“One thing where we are moving in the right direction since Martin took over is cleaning out the ditches to allow for better flow of water,” he said. “Are we going back to letting the ditches fill up, draining the phosphorus, but allowing flooding?”

Rountree said that this would impact developers and private property, not city-maintained ditches. What would happen is that the water flowing into the ditches would be more clean and would flow more smoothly, as it would be less likely to develop algae, he added.

Goodwin added that the ditches would function more like a swamp.

“This is more natural,” he said. “That’s what swamps are for. They filter stormwater before it gets to the oceans.”

This will be good for the city, said Goodwin.

“This is something we want,” he said. “If we do not stop letting developers build large concrete buildings and parking lot, and not retain, then everything will flood. You know how Armory Drive looks after a good rain.”

As far an enforcement, that will be up to the city. The city will be required to do once a year inspections.

The program also has a fee for residential development. For the most part the infill residential development in the city will be exempt from stormwater fees and permits under the new regulations, just as they are now.

Residential development on scattered sites, not part of a subdivision, that disturb less than one acre are exempt from the regulations. However, residential development on individual lots within a newly developed subdivision that disturb less than one acre would pay a stormwater fee of $290, with the City retaining 72 percent or $208.80 and returning the rest 28 percent, or $81.20 to the state.

The ordinance has to be adopted by Tuesday, July 1. For more information and to view a PDF preview of the full ordinance, visit