Council to hear storm water plan
By BEN FIELDS
HUNTINGTON — A comprehensive plan unveiled last week by Huntington Mayor Steve Williams to address the city’s continual problems with flooding because of longtime infrastructure deficiencies sailed through a City Council work session with barely a question Thursday.
Then again, only four of the Council’s 11 members were present.
The plan, which is a two-ordinance package up for first reading, is expected to draw tighter scrutiny and more discussion during the Council’s regular meeting Monday at 7:30 p.m.
Williams’ plan would cut the city’s municipal fee by 10 percent so citizens aren’t paying for a floodwall division that is being merged — along with the storm water department — with the city’s Sanitary Board. That’s the first ordinance.
The second ordinance would establish a Water Quality Board, that would serve as an umbrella agency for all three city departments.
Also within the second ordinance is a fee structure for the city’s storm water program, which would fund millions of dollars in maintenance and repairs to alleviate flooding problems that have plagued the city for decades.
Williams made a similar proposal in January, but it was received dubiously by both the Council and the Huntington community.
Since then, they mayor says he has been working on this new plan, which he considers a more fair approach that will produce benefits citizens can see.
If the ordinance passes two readings, a flat monthly fee of $7.15 for every property within the city would go into effect for two years.
After that time, residential property owners would continue to pay $7.15 per month, while nonresidential properties would be charged $7.15 plus $1.05 for every 1,000 square feet of impervious material — manmade structures that cause water runoff — up to a cap of 1 million square feet.
The plan would also give a 65 percent discount to any property owner on public assistance.
The Water Quality Board could also award discounts to businesses, developers or even residents who use methods such as rain barrels to divert water runoff. Those discounts would not apply to a property with 1 million square feet or more of impervious material.
Williams said it will take the city about two years to complete all the mapping necessary to begin charging nonresidential properties on a square-footage rate.
Also Monday, the Council will consider an ordinance rezoning 17 parcels of property in the vicinity of Cabell Huntington Hospital from residential to commercial use.
City Planner Breanna Shell said the rezoning is being requested so Cabell Huntington can use the third floor of the Ronald McDonald House for dialysis operations. Out of all of the properties, only one is occupied, and no one has voiced opposition to re-zoning, Shell said. She said there aren’t any plans to physically alter any of the land involved.
Follow reporter Ben Fields on Twitter @BenFieldsHD.
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