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Huntsville City Council Takes Up Local Flooding Issue

Recap of the June 5, 2018 Huntsville City Council meeting

by Walker County News Today staff

Kulhavy named City Manager

At its regular meeting Tuesday, June 5, 2018, the Huntsville City Council selected Aron Kulhavy to be the City’s next City Manager. All nine members of the Council seconded the nomination and voted in favor.

After the vote, Mayor Andy Brauninger said “In closing Aron, let me say this Council has full confidence in your ability to lead this City and the City employees in the future and we’re tickled to death that we were able to have somebody already within our ranks that could take over with the kind of experience that you’ve got.”

The City’s website carried the full press release.

Water Diversion on Private Property

This issue was placed on the Agenda by Ward 4 Councilmember Joe Rodriquez. He reported that houses are being built in Elkins Lake and Spring Lake that are causing excessive water runoff onto other nearby properties. He provided several examples to illustrate the point, all showing dramatic differences in elevation and all causing excessive water, mud and silt runoff onto lower adjacent properties.

Councilmember Rodriquez noted that Huntsville has a lot of minor elevation changes, but –

“builders have no requirement to mitigate the diversion of water that their pad and their house will cause and what they do is they’ll sell the home to the owner and the first time it rains the owner down below is going to sue the owner up above and the builder walks off scot free with his profit.”

Councilmember Rodriquez then noted that State Law prohibits the diversion of the natural flow of surface water in a manner that would cause damage to adjacent properties. He quoted that law which states:

       (a) No person may divert or impound the natural flow of surface waters in this state or permit a diversion or impounding by him to continue, in a manner that damages the property of another by the overflow of the water diverted or impounded.

      (b) A person whose property is injured by an overflow of water caused by an unlawful diversion or impounding has remedies at law and in equity and may recover damages occasioned by the overflow.

 Councilmember Rodriquez also noted that on commercial properties the City does require mitigation in accordance with the state law, but on residential properties “we don’t do anything.”

After considerable discussion, Council directed the City Staff to study this problem and bring recommendations back to the Council at the second regular meeting in July.

Roxie Douglas Learning Institute

In a Citizen Participation Request, Carmen Irving, speaking for the Roxie Douglas Learning Institute, requested that the City Council consider possible ways to help the Institute in its mission of trying to help young people who are having trouble progressing in HISD. She said that currently they can only help 20 students at a time when there are hundreds in need.

Ms. Irving suggested three possible ways that the City could help. One would be to donate the City owned property next to the Institute’s current location at 1511 10th St. so they could build a new larger building that would enable them to expand their educational program.

A second possibility would be for the City to partner with the Institute, a 501c3 non-profit entity. A third would be to donate the property next door as the Roxie Douglas Memorial Park.

Mayor Brauninger thanked Ms. Irving for her presentation and said that the City would consider her request and get back to her.

Other Business

In other business, Council:

  • heard the First Reading on a proposal to outsource the operation of the Solid Waste Transfer Facility;
  • directed that a new Transportation Master Plan for the City be created and adopted the 2018 FEMA-approved Huntsville Hazard Mitigation Plan Update; and
  • approved the appointment of Mike Christian and Robert Tucker to vacant seats on the city’s Veteran’s Advisory Board.

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