Impervious Pavement Discussions before Culver Boards

At the Culver BZA meeting on September 18, 2008 there was a variance request for expanding a nonconforming use.  The request was to allow an existing two car garage to be expanded to a three car garage.  This was an old garage that sat across the setback lines.  There was no doubt that the the existing structure should be replaced.  The expansion of the nonconforming use in and of itself wasn’t a big deal, but in the overall big picture, it was not only a structure issue, but an impervious surface issue.

Just two days earlier at the Culver Plan Commission meeting, there was discussion regarding the poor condition of the storm sewers in Culver and their inadequacies.  That was regarding another section of town that has poor drainage and another project that was adding impervious surface.  Even if the solution of adding new and larger storm sewers to correct these issues was economically feasible, it wouldn’t be environmentally appropriate. 

My background in Landscape Architecture tells me that we can use our resources, but we need to be good stewards of those resources in the process.  Lake Maxinkuckee is the jewel of our community and our #1 natural resource.  Directing unfiltered water containing pavement debris that includes brake dust, oils and other automotive fluids along with the various sundry contaminants contained in residential runoff and industrial runoff is not the best practice for preserving our Lake.  Many of these things are discussed at length in the Lake Maxinkuckee Lake and Watershed Management Plan produced by the Lake Maxinkuckee Environmental Council.

I did not speak against either project.  I’m not against progress and development in Culver.  I did speak in both cases regarding the possibility of requesting a reduction in impervious surfaces and/or some form of storm water detention.  I guess I’m batting 500 on this.  The issue before the Plan Commission is going to be studied further.  The contractor before the BZA said they would move the building and withdraw the variance rather than consider addressing the runoff issue.

Rainpave Permeable Rumbled Clay Paver by Pine Hall Brick

Rainpave Permeable Rumbled Clay Paver by Pine Hall Brick

I thought that was an odd position for the contractor to take.  The property owner was not there.  Instead of taking this as an opportunity to upgrade the project specifications and do something positive, the contractor immediately perceived it as a negative.  Some of the new permeable pavement solutions have enhanced aesthetics and would have been an improvement to the proposed concrete drives and functionally they would serve the same purpose.  It seems incongruous to me for someone to move to Culver because of the Lake, but then take no ownership in its care and preservation.

Uni-lock Eco-Stone Pavers

Uni-lock Eco-Stone Pavers

There is a growing variety of permeable pavement options, though at one time they were not recommended for our area due to the issues with damage from our regional freeze/thaw cycles.  Now even some of the permeable poured concrete solutions and permeable asphalt solutions are available here.  There is currently a test section under review in South Bend at the Erskine Village development at the old Scottsdale Mall site.

Detention is harder to address on small sites, but it’s not impossible.  Where storm drains or defined swales exist, it is possible to do some surface detention or even a buried tank or manhole with a controlled release.  Downspouts can be collected and put into French Drains.  We have used a downspout collector system where the line runs underground to a vertical Tee 10′ or so from the building foundation.  The bottom of the Tee drains into a French Drain below grade.  The top “daylights” to a yard drain allowing an overflow during an intense rain.  This gets the water away from the building, underground and isn’t a mowing hazard.  This is a solution that came from Mark Holeman, a Landscape Designer in Indianapolis.

There are lots of options out there that are environmental friendly and economically feasible.  Culver should consider educating its residents to the possibilities.  Overbuilding the watershed will be continuing problems for the Town’s storm water system and the Lake’s capacity to absorb abuse.


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