stormwater

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — The Johns Creek City Council is edging closer to establishing a stormwater utility after reviewing a proposed fee structure presented at a Feb. 8 work session.

Since its incorporation nearly 15 years ago, stormwater has been an ongoing issue in Johns Creek. Roughly 80 percent of the city’s stormwater management systems were installed before current best practice methods. As a result, the city has witnessed erosion, flooding and contamination of rivers and lakes.

Community Development Director Ben Song presented the city’s impervious surface analysis and proposed structure rate and credit for a stormwater utility.

Impervious surfaces, mainly artificial structures — such as pavements, roads, sidewalks, driveways and parking lots — have a direct correlation to stormwater runoff generated from a property.

In the proposed rate structure, the amount of impervious surface represents 95 percent of the calculation to determine stormwater utility fees. The remaining 5 percent represents the property’s pervious area because, depending on the volume and rate of flow, not all runoff infiltrates into the ground.

Song said at this point the city estimates the monthly stormwater utility fee to be around $4 per equivalent residential unit of impervious surface — the median impervious coverage of a single-family home, about 4,000 square feet.

The recommended fee structure is made up of six residential tiers and a calculation for non-residential property. The first five residential tiers cover property with from 2,000 to 11,000 square feet of runoff. About 95 percent of the city’s residential properties would fall into these tiers.

Approximately half of all homeowners would be billed for one equivalent residential unit.

The sixth residential tier is for property with a runoff area greater than 11,000 square feet.

For non-residential property, the total runoff area would be divided by the equivalent residential unit to determine the fee. All property, regardless of its use, with a runoff area less than 400 square feet are proposed to be exempt from the fee.

Mayor Mike Bodker, while not opposed to the tier system, said he feared the monthly fee might not be enough to address the stormwater issue in a timely manner. He estimated it would take at least an additional 15 years to fix the problem.

“I want you all to think about the fact that you know, we're 15 years into the city, this has clearly been a problem,” he said. “I think one of the things that you need to strongly consider is how fast do you think we need to fix the problem.”

Bodker also said the council has the option of using TSPLOST funds to aid the stormwater issues.

He said money allocated for paving through TSPLOST could come out of the general fund budget and be redirected toward stormwater without any legislative changes.

TSPLOST dollars could also fix stormwater issues when working on roads and roadways, within a reasonable parameter, because it’s tied to a roadway project and improvement.

The council will also consider certain credits property owners could apply to lessen the stormwater utility fee. There are 11 credits proposed, including constructing and maintaining stormwater facilities that infiltrate the runoff or extended detention. Residents could also receive credits for participating in city-approved watershed stewardship events within the city, such as Adopt-A-Stream, Rivers Alive and Great American Cleanup Day.

Many council members said they did not think this would not be enough incentive for homeowners to take action, but Song stressed it would also apply to homeowner associations, which represent a large portion of Johns Creek neighborhoods. Any credits the HOA receives for structures at places like the clubhouses or pools will also be credited to the members.

City staff will take the council’s feedback and return in April with a billing process. The city anticipates the stormwater utility ordinance to be implemented in May 2021.

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