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In the first three installments of this series, we reviewed Low Impact Development (LID) techniques, how they work to mimic the natural system, and what benefits LID offers to the community, the developer, the environment, and the property owner. In this fourth installment, we'll provide an overview of the available implementation measures that your community can use to start reaping the benefits of LID.
Local Measures for Implementation
Let’s assume that the benefits of Low Impact Development are a rising priority for your community. Now you may be wondering, “How would the Planning Commission do LID in my community?” We provide you with a nuts-and-bolts checklist to help you determine an effective LID strategy for your situation.
Step 1: Are there state or local regulations that prevent LID in your community?
This involves a careful review of your development regulations for standards that would directly prohibit or conflict with LID. Examples of some common regulatory conflicts are local ordinances or codes that:
- require downspouts to be connected to the sewer system, that
- require subdivisions to have storm drains and/or detention basins, or
- require driveways and parking lots to be impervious surface.
Your Planning Commission will need to work with the governing body to revise these kind of regulations so they don’t prevent the appropriate use of LID strategies.
A somewhat unique issue is Water Rights states. For example, in some western states, it would be a violation of state water rights for an individual to harvest rainwater in a rain barrel on their property. States that have Water Management Districts (Florida is one) may also have governance over rainwater and stormwater, so check with your municipal or county legal counsel before you proceed with implementing LID in your community.
Step 2: Has your community been a part of a watershed study?
A study of the hydrology and hydraulics of your watershed (see our previous column for definitions) is important for understanding which Integrated Management Practices will work the best for your community. The results of the study can be formatted as a LID handbook for your community, and provide specific details that will help guide IMP design and installation. For one good “role model” check out the Low Impact Development Manual (pdf) prepared for watersheds in the Toledo, Ohio area.
We recommend that your community partner with other communities in your watershed to develop a watershed study. This will help to ensure that you are investing your time and effort on a LID program that will function effectively for your specific location and unique conditions. Hiring qualified professionals to do this study is money well spent.
Step 3: What are your community’s goals? ...
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Jim Segedy, FAICP, worked for many years in Ball State University's Community Based Planning program, providing assistance to more than one hundred communities and many plan commissions (as planning commissions are called in Indiana). He is currently an adjunct Professor of Urban Studies at the University of Pittsburgh; and a member of the Edgewood, Pennsylvania, Planning Commission.
Lisa Hollingsworth-Segedy, AICP, is the Associate Director for River Restoration for American Rivers' Pittsburgh field office. Before moving to Pennsylvania, she spent over a decade as a circuit-riding planner for a regional planning organization serving the western fringe of Metropolitan Atlanta.