Howard County Executive Calvin Ball filed legislation his administration says protects Ellicott City from future flooding by tightening development regulations and fees.
Ball filed a pair of resolutions with the Howard County Council on Friday to add requirements if developers are pursuing projects that may add to flooding in the Tiber Branch and Plumtree Branch watersheds.
“This legislation represents significant action to strengthen environmental protection in our watersheds and plan for the future with previous storms in mind. In addition to our mitigation work through ‘EC Safe and Sound,’ this legislation will address development and help protect Ellicott City,” Ball said in a statement. “Armed with lessons of the past, we are making positive change to serve both the land and the people of our community. By decreasing storm runoff, we will help mitigate flooding and increase safety for all.”
The first piece of legislation requires proposed developments to meet higher stormwater management standards. Ball’s proposals follow recommendations that stemmed from studies performed to meet requirements from the Tiber Branch and Plumtree Branch Watershed Safety Act approved in 2018.
The second resolution proposes raising fees-in-lieu to build stormwater management supporting new development from $72,000 to $175,000 per acre-foot water storage.
The proposed per acre-foot fees are based on costs associated with existing stormwater management ponds. Resulting funds from the increase collected by the Department of Planning Zoning would be earmarked for flood mitigation projects in the watersheds.
Protecting Ellicott City from future flooding has been a focal point for the county in recent years. The historic mill town turned retail destination has been hammered by a pair of recent deadly floods.
Main Street has been swamped twice in storms, in July 2016 and May 2018. The floods caused millions in dollars of damage and forced some merchants to close for good, some out of concern for employees and customers.
Many residents and activists in the county blamed over development in the area for the flooding. An engineering firm hired by the county conducted a study that concluded the flooding could not be directly attributed to development, but also found recent building did contribute to problems with rushing waters.
Ball, who was elected in 2018, announced in May he backed a plan to protect Ellicott City from future flooding that could cost up to $140.5 million.
His predecessor, former County Executive Allan Kittleman, previously proposed a plan involving the demolition of about 5% of the buildings in Old Ellicott City and cost roughly $56.5 million.