Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Deal reached on waterfall problem

Posted By on Tue, Aug 12, 2014 at 10:10 AM

click to enlarge Screen_shot_2014-08-12_at_9.47.53_AM.png
After several weeks of wrangling, the city and Michael Chiaramonte have reached an agreement about a temporary repair of drainage facilities near his home on Popes Valley Drive.

Chiaramonte's plight was featured in the Independent's cover story last week, which reported that drainage from a residential development south of his house was faulty from the start but approved by the city anyway in the early 1980s. Since then, water tumbling down a hillside has carved a deep cavern before it washes a path to his home. The July 16 heavy rain caused up to $20,000 in damage to his home. The city  has denied his claim to fund those repairs.

The city originally wanted Chiaramonte to give it access to his property to attempt a temporary fix while engineers worked on a permanent plan to remediate the problem while holding the city harmless on all future damage if the city's repairs don't stop the flooding. Chiaramonte said no.

Then, on Monday, we received this email message from the Air Force Academy grad (he's currently teaching computer science at the academy): "We signed the form today.... It is more acceptable. Not perfect but at least I don't feel totally exposed."

Perhaps this ends the saga of the waterfall nobody wanted.

Meantime, the county issued a news release about the latest turn in the effort to present voters with a measure that would create the Pikes Peak Regional Drainage Authority. The authority would collect fees based on impervious surface of property and pump some $39 million annually into new projects, operations, maintenance and emergency flood control.
El Paso County Commissioners, in a joint meeting today with Fountain and Manitou Springs leadership, and Colorado Springs City Council members, heard a number of proposals from Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach which include major changes to recommendations made by the Stormwater Task Force. That Task Force has been working the past two years to establish the framework for a Regional Drainage Authority to address a dangerous backlog of failing, inadequate and non-existent stormwater management facilities which has been estimated to total nearly $800 million.

The Task Force has asked the Board of County Commissioners to put a question on the November election ballot that would create the Pikes Peak Regional Drainage Authority (RDA). The RDA would be governed by a Board of elected officials representing the County, the City of Colorado Springs, Fountain and other participating communities. The City of Colorado Springs would have the greatest number of representatives as indicated by population and because it has the greatest number of needed stormwater management needs all major decisions of the RDA would require approval by a “Super Majority” of The Board.

“As an organization, governance of the RDA is basically copied from the highly successful model of the twice voter approved Pikes Peak Regional Transportation Authority (PPRTA). PPRTA has a board made up of elected officials and an advisory council made up of citizens appointed by the members and we have seen how well this governance model works,” noted Commissioner Amy Lathen, who has been working with the Task Force since its inception. “We believe that a Board made up entirely of elected leaders from each of the participating municipalities with the City of Colorado Springs getting the largest number of board seats will promote true regional collaboration and assure accountability to the citizens.”

Commissioners indicated that they do not support many of the Mayor’s proposals. But other proposals made by the Mayor were accepted. One would ensure that the City of Colorado Springs maintains a majority of seats on the RDA Board if more municipalities decide to join the RDA.

The biggest change discussed during the joint meeting today included one that would further reduce the recommended stormwater fee structure and eliminate altogether a provision that would have allowed fees to increase in line with annual increases in the area’s Consumer Price Index (CPI). “By capping the maximum revenue that can be generated by the RDA at $39,275,650, in this proposal a typical residential property owner will pay about $7.70 a month based on the amount of impervious surface on his or her property and the rate paid for that impervious surface will not go up,” noted Commissioner Chair Dennis Hisey.

Colorado Springs City Council is scheduled to consider an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) establishing the framework of the Regional Drainage Authority at its meeting tomorrow (August 12, 2014).

The IGA is tentatively scheduled for consideration by the Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday, August 19th along with proposed ballot language that would go to the voters for their consideration on the November election ballot.

The proposed ballot language will be given a second hearing, as required by the Commissioners rules, at their regular meeting on Tuesday, August 26th.

Regularly scheduled meetings of the Board of County Commissioners are held in the Commissioners’ Hearing Room at Centennial Hall, 200 South Cascade Avenue in Colorado Springs starting at 9 a.m.

County commissioners encourage Mayor Bach and Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, Fountain and Green Mountain Falls leadership to support this unprecedented collaborative proposal led by the citizen task force to manage flooding and stormwater throughout our region.
Bach has scheduled a media briefing for 11 a.m. Wednesday during which he might announce his support or opposition to the ballot measure.

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