North / South America
"Oceans of Asphalt" to be eliminated
Jul, 19 2012
(Killeen, Texas) -- Land developers in Killeen may have to abide by a new set of environmental requirements if the city council approves two new construction ordinances next week.
While the new regulations may be burdensome for some builders, they would eliminate more of what Councilman Terry Clark calls "oceans of asphalt" from being built in the city.
One of the proposed ordinances would require all new construction projects in Killeen to include design features like vegetated parking lot islands, modified storm drains or xeriscaping in their blueprints before they can receive a building permit from the city.
The features, which are supposed to filter rainwater and decrease the speed of rainwater runoff, already have been incorporated into infrastructure maintained by the city of Killeen.
"These are the regulations that we are following and now we are making it so that everyone who constructs infrastructure for public dedication inside the city of Killeen will have to follow the same standards," said Kristina Ramirez, Killeen Director of Environmental Services.
In addition to some general requirements in the proposed ordinance, land developers would have to choose from a list of 27 best management practices in order to meet the regulations.
Ramirez said her department consulted neighboring cities, including Harker Heights, Temple, Round Rock and Georgetown, to determine the most critical items to be regulated, although most of the ordinance was modeled by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The hope, Ramirez said, is that putting grass strips into parking lots or leaving sections of the properties undeveloped will allow storm water to filter contaminants like motor oil, sediment and bacteria out of the rainwater before it flows into the area lakes and rivers.
"You lessen the impact space," Ramirez said. "The filter strip acts as a buffer. It helps to clean that water before it makes it into the streams."
Bringing the community closer
Clark, a proponent of the plan, serves on the Place Design Committee, which meets each month to find ways the city can be more attractive to new residents.
"We have a very large growing season. A lot of the time we are a very green community," Clark said. "If we could grow a city that looked like more of a garden city we would grow a better city."
The city ordinance does not mandate how the islands must be shaped or what the property owners must put in them.
Clark suggested that businesses would provide benches and trees in the parking lot islands that could develop into gathering places for the community.
"As a community ages and gets older they now can look for a tree to park under," Clark said. "It creates places for community members to congregate and visit. It encourages communication."
Regardless of benefits that may result from the new regulations, Ramirez said the city must approve some form of a storm water construction standard in order to qualify for a specific permit issued by the EPA.
"The intent of the measure was to improve water quality," Ramirez said. "A majority of (the requirements) are green alternatives. They are going above and beyond the historic practices."
The council will discuss the ordinances at its next regular meeting at 5 p.m. Tuesday in the council chambers of City Hall, 101 N. College St.
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