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Elmhurst to require storm water storage for new homes

ELMHURST – The Elmhurst City Council voted in favor of a new policy that will require new homes to provide on-site storm water storage Monday.

"New builders coming into town are already doing this. Nitti, who bought the hospital property, has already committed to implementing private property storm water mitigation," said Fifth Ward Alderman Chris Healy.

The policy sets the maximum allowable impervious lot coverage at 60 percent and applies the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Runoff Curve Number (CN) method to that 60 percent to determine storm water management requirements for new homes.

Some builders said to base storm water storage requirements on the 60 percent number is too much.

"Rarely, if ever, is a new home hitting a 50 to 60 percent impervious mark, but this would be punishing everyone for just that," said life-long Elmhurst resident and area builder David McKenna.

While new homes may not cover 60 percent of the lot with impervious surface, members of the committee pointed out that installing the maximum storm water storage during initial construction would be cheaper than installing it later to mitigate additional impervious surface created by additions, second driveways or sports courts.

The Development, Planning and Zoning Committee is in the process of evaluating an impervious surface limit for construction. If that number is different than 60 percent, the policy would use the DPZ number.

Fifth Ward Alderman Scott Levin moved to amend the report to link storm water storage to the percent of impervious surface constructed on the lot instead of requiring all new homes to provide storage based on the maximum impervious surface.

When Healy defended the 60 percent number and suggested if the council had implemented the policy 20 years ago, it would have improved the situation during Elmhurst's 2010 or 2013 floods. In response, some audience members laughed.

"Very typical of some the responses we've been getting from some in the building community all along," Healy said.

Others argued that even providing storm water storage based on 60 percent, would do little to combat flooding during severe storm events.

The storm water management system can be in the form of a french-drain, rain garden, underground storage system, rainwater harvesting system, combination or other designs approved by the city engineer. Maintaining these systems was another concern.

"When I weigh the cost/benefit, it just doesn't make sense," said Fourth Ward Alderman Stephen Hipskind, adding he would support a policy, but not the one presented.

Committee members defended the policy. While they acknowledged it would not resolve all flooding, it was a step toward a community-wide solution.

"What we're talking about here in this amendment is putting the needs of new homeowners and their desires ahead of the needs of current and existing residents," said committee chairman and Sixth Ward Alderman Jim Kennedy.

After the failed motion to amend the report, the council voted 12 to 1 in favor of the policy.

The policy also does not allow the direct connection of sump pumps and downspouts to the storm sewer, unless they are deemed necessary to avoid structural damage to the new home or adjacent homes.

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How they voted

Ayes: Diane Gutenkauf, Marti Deuter, Bob Dunn, Norman Leader, Dannee Polomsky, Michael Bram, Scott Levin, Chris Healy, Michael Honquest, Jim Kennedy, Mark Mulliner, Patrick Wagner

Nays: Stephen Hipskind

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