City Council votes 5 to 2 for ordinance
By Brandon Janes
Killeen Daily Herald
The local housing industry won a major victory Tuesday night, when the Killeen City Council approved a regulation on storm water drainage greatly reduced from its original form.
The construction ordinance now requires commercial and residential builders to maintain a 25-foot buffer zone around all city waterways and to build Best Management Practices into construction plans before they can begin construction in Killeen.
The City Council voted 5 to 2 to approve the regulations, with Terry Clark and Jonathan Okray casting the dissenting votes.
The approved regulations, however, represent much less than the ordinance that was tabled by the City Council on July 23.
The Drainage Stakeholders Committee, in charge of drafting the ordinance, voted to greatly reduce the requirements of the ordinance at its Aug. 2 meeting.
"Basically what was decided was to cut the required number of credits in half," Burt Weathersbee, a consultant for Jacobs Consulting, said.
"There is a lot that has gone on, but really that symbolizes a significant shift — to cut the required number of credits in half."
The controversial BMPs are artificial or natural features that filter contaminants out of storm water before it is released into local streams.
During the City Council meeting Tuesday, Weathersbee showed a 10-acre lot for a Home Depot that would only have to perform soil and site assessment tests and a xeriscaping feature in order to meet the required credits under the now-approved ordinance.
Under the original proposal, the lot would have had to include parking lot islands in addition to the other features to be approved.
Other changes to the ordinance greatly restructured the window for residential acreage, allowing plots from 5 acres to 50 acres to have the same number of required BMPs. In the previous proposal, the gap was between 5 acres and 20 acres.
"We felt it really wasn't necessary to go to that 50 acres," Weathersbee said. "If you take that, a developer could get the credits he needs without doing anything that affects water quality."
Clark expressed his opposition to the reduction in regulations, saying it would allow builders to be approved to build without improving water quality in Killeen.
"I have no intention of approving this," Clark said. "We've had a significant demonstration that I believe shows the staff does not support this."
A separate consultant, hired by members of the stakeholders group, explained to the City Council that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency envisions that the storm water drainage reform include several issuances of regulations.
"Unfortunately, no matter what is passed, you will be going through this another time," Jennifer Walker, a consultant representing the stakeholders, said.
Kristina Ramirez, director of environmental services for the city of Killeen, said the city would look at the regulations again in two or three years.
Contact Brandon Janes at email@example.com or (254) 501-7552.