THE IMPACT OF DEVELOPMENT

DRAINAGE & RUNOFF

 

WATER PROBLEMS HAVE BEEN GOING ON FOR YEARS

And the problems persist.  This letter to the left, dated in 1995, was with respect to what is now Wyndemere Farms. It wasn't the first letter Hollydale's attorneys had written to the City about water, and it wasn't the last. It's no surprise that just last year Wyndemere residents were sharing their ongoing water management problems with City officials.

 

At the time Wyndemere was being considered for approval, environmental "experts" were telling the Council and residents that the water would be controlled.  They used the exact same words then that they are using today. It didn't work then and is unlikely to work now.

The photo above is of the golf course and a neighboring yard on a regular rainy October day.  Big downpours turn the two ponds into a lake.  Residents of another development have spent close to a million dollars for water mitigation.  Multiple sump pumps and extensive draining systems are not uncommon.

 

Around Hollydale the water level is high and the soil is poorly draining. Residents know it and the Council knows it, but "experts" paid by developers provide assurances that all will be okay. Then they move on to the next project leaving the residents holding the bag.  At what point does a reasonable person conclude that building more houses  is not the right thing to do?

 

DRAINAGE PROBLEMS

Through the years of development of Schmidt Lake Road and the neighborhoods surrounding the golf course, drainage was an issue for its owners. City documents show exchanges between the City and Hollydale's lawyer regarding efforts to keep impervious surface drainage away from the golf course to prevent flooding. The owner attended Council meetings, testifying that runoff increased with new development. Because of the water, the City required a hold harmless agreement from the developer of Nanterre. 

Yet these efforts did not prevent problems at the newly built homes. After 25 years, residents in surrounding areas are still plagued by wet basements, collapsed swimming pools, and sump pump discharge - even in the dead of winter.

The proposed development has more than twice the homes of the adjacent developments to the north and east of the golf course. Failure to control runoff in existing neighborhoods suggests that the denser planned development, with 319 new homes on smaller lots, combined with 40 more across the street at Timbers Edge, will only exacerbate the problems for these homeowners. 

Much of the soil in this area is poorly draining clay. Hollydale's elevation drops into the wetland over 50 feet. Some of the wetland was filled in to create the golf course. Water and gravity are powerful things. With 39 acres of new impervious surface, the chances of avoiding damage to existing homes, new homes, and/or the wetland, are slim.

Sump pump drainage at Autumn Hills. December 18, 2019

 
 

Spring thaw on the wetland south of Hollydale.

ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE

Rainfall is absorbed into soils. With land development, the natural landscape is replaced by surfaces impervious to water. Thus, more stormwater runoff occurs - runoff that is collected by drainage systems that combine curbs, storm sewers, and ditches to carry stormwater to Plymouth Creek, Medicine Lake, and into the Mississippi River. 

This development would turn more than 30% of Hollydale land - 39 acres - into impervious surface. That will significantly increase the runoff into the wetland, potentially increasing water levels, polluting the waters, and damaging a fragile ecosystem. 

The Environmental Assessment Worksheet uses words like "mitigate" and "minimize" and "to the extent practical" in their discussions of how the developer will manage the issue.  

 

While we don't question the engineers' expertise, commitment to following standards, or sincerity of intent, when it comes to controlling water around Hollydale, we know from experience that it doesn't work.