Originally created 03/12/98

Talk of stopping work along creek lessens despite flood fears



While flooding continues to be a problem along Crawford Creek and Columbia Road, discussion of stopping housing and commercial development in that area to alleviate the situation has quieted.

"I'm trying to give our staff and consulting engineering folks enough motivation so we don't reach that point," said county Commissioner Pete Brodie, who first mentioned the work stoppage during a commission meeting in January. "I said those words as a note of caution to them."

Development in that part of the county is creating flooding problems, because natural runoff areas are being altered.

Mr. Brodie said the moratorium is still a possibility, but he hopes a stormwater utility fee -- a monthly charge to fund floodwater-prevention projects -- will pre-empt any work stoppage.

"We've got to move forward with this stormwater utility, and we can't drag our feet around it," he said. "We've got to start doing the engineering studies to understand what the problems really are in the creek basins."

Officials hope the utility fee will be implemented by early 1999.

"We are going to get this thing off the ground and put into place by a local ordinance this year and up and operating by the beginning of 1999," he said. "I think that is going to give us the resources to do what we need to do.

Mr. Brodie said floodwater prevention in the Crawford Creek and Columbia Road area is important because the road affects more than seven creeks, including Benton Branch, Steiner Creek, Little Kiokee Creek, Walton Branch, Crawford Creek and Reed Creek. Three of the waterways -- Steiner, Walton and Crawford -- combine to form Tudor Branch at Hereford Farm Road, where a bridge was demolished during a 1990 flood.

Columbia Road had remained largely undeveloped until about 10 years ago. Since then, Patriots Park, Grimaud Place subdivision, Ivy Falls Plantation subdivision and William Few Parkway -- which links the thoroughfare to Washington Road -- have been built.

Meanwhile some local real estate agents and development officials are concerned about the impact of a moratorium.

"I don't think you even need a moratorium," said Tom Ashe, a real estate agent with Blanchard and Calhoun. "That land has been flooding ever since there was a Columbia County. You can come up with all these laws and regulations, but don't throw away common sense."