AURORA -- After postponing a vote at several recent meetings, City Council on April 24 approved two ordinances dealing with development of the Homestead subdivision.
The vote on a final plat for Homestead Phase 3, Block A was 8-1 and the vote on a revised development plan for that section was OK'd 7-2. Ward 3 rep Reva Barner voted "no" on the first measure, while Barner and Councilman-at-Large Scott Wolf voted "no" on the second measure.
Developer Classic Homes will now be allowed to build eight single-family homes instead of the previously proposed 14 condominium units, which it believes will reduce impervious surfaces and the potential for flooding.
A handful of current Homestead residents opposed the revisions based on the fact that their homes suffered water damage caused by what Mayor Ann Womer Benjamin called "a 200- to 500-year flood" in July 2015.
Service Director John Trew has said stormwater control infrastructure is designed to withstand 100-year floods, but not floods as severe as the July 2015 event.
Womer Benjamin said the city funded two studies by an engineering firm, one of which concluded that the stormwater management system in the development was set up according to submitted plans and city standards.
However, that study did recommend some things that could be done to improve stormwater management such as removing plant growth and silt and sediment deposits to restore the basins to their original volume and configuration.
The mayor has noted that maintenance of one pond located near Eggleston Road is the homeowners association's responsibility since it's privately owned.
City Law Director Dean DePiero has stated the neighborhood does not have a history of repeated flooding, and there had not been flooding prior to the 2015 event.
Westview Drive resident Frank Vitale, who has been an outspoken opponent of the development plan revisions at several recent Council meetings, said he was disappointed by Council's approval last week.
"I am surprised and disappointed that Council and the city would turn their backs on this situation without dialogue or exchange of information [with the concerned residents]," Vitale told Council at last week's meeting. "Twenty-one houses [the number he said was affected by the July 2015 flood] is not a small number."
Councilman Jim Vaca said the city has to trust the studies done by engineering firms, noting "we don't pay for these studies simply to ignore them."
Councilman Dennis Kovach said the July 2015 storm "was very unusual, and I can't see it happening again for a very long time." Refuting some residents' claims, he added, "We [city officials] do care about the city and its citizens."
Meanwhile, in a narrow 5-4 vote at last week's meeting, Council approved a revised final plat for the Hawkin subdivision on the north side of East Mennonite Road across from Harris Drive despite fears from some Chatham Estates residents who believe the new homes will worsen a stormwater problem in Chatham.
Womer Benjamin said she has visited Chatham Estates on a few occasions, and the city has included in this year's budget about $300,000 to $400,000 for new culverts near a creek on the east side of the subdivision.
"We've also been regularly cleaning out the creek bed," she said, adding she would be happy to meet with concerned Chatham residents to further discuss the stormwater problem.