HYDRANT TESTING – Coosaw Preserve – COOSAW WETLANDS – REGIONAL Art
Fire hydrant testing – The Fire Department will soon begin its annual hydrant capacities and functionality testing. Signs will be posted in neighborhoods in advance of testing, and schedules will also be posted via social media. Hydrant testing, infrequently, causes a discoloring of tap water. This results from the stirring of line sediments already on the water. Be assured the fire department adds nothing to the water for testing. For any resident concerned about this, the fire department will offer a product “Red-B-Gone.” You can call 843 740-2616 for more information about this free product. Testing will rotate throughout the city during March.
Coosaw Preserve, welcome! – Residents of this quickly evolving neighborhood in front of the Joseph Pye Elementary School are now on the District 4 newsletter mailing list. Their immediate concern is the rush-hour school year morning traffic which causes frequent backups exiting the neighborhood. But this is a general concern for most District 4 neighborhoods. The city now posts two policemen at the school traffic intersections and public works is studying whether a traffic signal might help. Dorchester County officials are now conversing with Charleston County about matching improvements on Patriot Boulevard. (The county line runs just east of the school, near the Boeing interiors plant.)
COOSAW CREEK WETLANDS – Confusion about the storm-damages cleanup of these community wetlands abounds — especially after the Coosaw Creek Country Club Owners Association declined a prospective city grant to help fund the project. As I discussed before in this newsletter, the Coosaw wetlands facilitate the drainage of several residential neighborhoods, including part of the Farm at Wescott and Indigo Palms, and several other unincorporated neighborhoods off Ashley Phosphate Road. In a word, these properties are strategically important. Hurricane Matthew’s winds last October blew over hundreds of massive trees. The effects slow storm water flows and create value-sapping aesthetical damages.
The Coosaw Creek CC Owners Association owns the wetlands and is singularly responsible for their condition.
Because of the broader community use of these wetlands, the city attempted to formulate a grant of assistance package for city council approval. The proposal would have provided $102,450 to help finance the project which could cost $250,000. Most of the grant funds, if city council had approved, would have come from the last dollars in the District 4 bond monies, which have been used to pave roads and create pocket parks and buy playground equipment.
After on-site inspections by city engineers and Mayor Keith Summey, the condition of the grant was confirmed – the project would remove fallen trees from the regulatory wetlands so as to substantially reduce the effects on drainage throughout the community wetlands AND resolve the aesthetical effects on property owners who are living with up-close ugliness and mosquito-breeding static water pools on their property lines. The city also offered to phase the grant over two years to accommodate the Association’s strategic financial schedules.
After two months, The Coosaw Creek CC Owners Association declined the city’s scope of work and opted instead to embrace a “committee” conclusion that only certain parts of the wetlands would be cleared.
The city’s immediate concern was that the plan is not documented by professional engineers certified in hydrology, and nor does it address the huge problem of aesthetics. And the city will monitor closely the Association’s apparent plan to cut up trees from arterial water courses and then stack the logs within the wetlands.
But, the city recognizes that as the owner of these community wetlands, the Coosaw Creek CC Owners Association’s board has every right to reject the city’s prospective assistance and to adjudge the drainage and aesthetics issues from their points of view. I intend to continue to consider ways to help.
We are reminded that privately-owned storm water drainage wetlands are hugely important to the broader community’s drainage systems – and they must be maintained. And as I have mentioned in previous newsletters, that’s a point every homeowners association should ponder. I was especially heartened that two HOAs, recognizing their residents’ interest in the Coosa wetlands, offered to make affordable donations which might have increased the city’s grant funding support for the Coosaw project.
And we are reminded of the huge financial burdens on owners when these properties are heavily damaged. And we are surely reminded that damage is a reality, not an abstraction to be rationalized — and the costs of restoration is never simply defined by what we wish it would cost or even what has been budgeted for such contingencies.
The city will continue to look for ways to assist with this and other drainage issues. I welcome your comments and counsel. (And I was informed Saturday that the prospective grant funds will be maintained through the city’s March financial approval cycle.)
Other “Stormwater” Updates – As I reported in previous newsletters, the city applied to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for a $100,000 grant to conduct an engineering review and solutions study for the Pepperhill community drainage systems and the McChune Branch runoff generally. FEMA has now offered $25,000 for the study. The City Council Finance Committee last week agreed to consider supplementing the funding of this project to assure it has an adequate scope. In the meanwhile, anyone with a factual theory about down-stream constraints on the McChune Branch runoff system should contact me. The city will investigate all such claims in consultation with federal and state agencies.
Here’s a feature story about how retention ponds can be maintained with higher function and attractiveness: http://www.postandcourier.com/features/experts-devising-ways-to-make-stormwater-ponds-more-natural-functional/article_131e2a70-f3bc-11e6-b8f8-8b45c5bf3226.html
BUILDING PERMITS ENFORCEMENT - If you’re planning work projects on your home – like a new roof or fence – you will probably need a city building permit. The city is now auditing projects in District 4. One review disclosed that 91 projects without sufficient permits had taken place last year in one owners association neighborhood. Qualified and licensed contractors will be aware of this and state law mandates that local approvals – such as an ARB permit—is a condition of municipal building permits. So, please make sure your projects are legally permitted. The process informs the city’s efforts to assure work on homes complies with building and public safety codes. If you have a question about this, please contact me.
ART IS REGIONAL! Free show and free reception…. the Summerville Artist Guild members will display their works at the North Charleston City Gallery from March 2-31, 2017. A free reception will be held at the gallery on Thursday, March 2, from 5:00-7:00pm. Many of the exhibiting artists will be there and the public is invited.
The North Charleston City Gallery is situated in two corridors of the northwest corner of the Charleston Area Convention Center, located at 5001 Coliseum Drive in North Charleston. Parking and admission are free. Gallery hours are Tuesdays 12-5pm, Wednesdays 11am-5pm, Thursdays 11am-7:30pm, and Fridays 11am-5pm. Want more information? Contact the North Charleston Cultural Arts Department at (843)740-5854 or check in at the Arts & Culture section of the City’s website at www.northcharleston.org.