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Regulations released to eliminate flooding

By Denise Dick

Friday, November 25, 2005

The regulations would restrict how close to a stream construction may occur.
BOARDMAN -- A yearlong process has produced model regulations targeting the alleviation of flooding throughout Mahoning County.
Eastgate Regional Council of Governments, Mahoning County Engineer's office, and the Alliance for Watershed Action and Riparian Easements recently released a sample ordinance aimed at implementing zoning tools to control flooding.
The riparian setbacks -- property next to a watercourse within which building cannot occur -- also would limit stream bank erosion and reduce water pollution. The setbacks would restrict development of houses, buildings and other property from a stream's path.
"The goals are to minimize flooding and to protect streams from water pollution," said Kimberly Mascarella, Eastgate's director of environmental planning.
The panel introduced the idea to a meeting of Mahoning County township officials last week.
"It's a model ordinance," said Marilyn Kenner, chief deputy county engineer. "The townships can tweak it for their best use."
Under the ordinance, which is based on one in Bainbridge Township, in Northeast Ohio, building is restricted within a certain distance from a watercourse, such as a stream.
The distance is based on the size of the watershed into which the watercourse drains.
"The smaller the watershed, the closer you can build to a stream, and the larger the watershed, the further away you can build from a stream," Kenner said.
Built-in flexibility
Each township would have to adopt a riparian setback ordinance establishing its own parameters. For most townships, that will occur through their zoning commissions after a presentation to and recommendation from the Mahoning County Planning Commission.
After going before a township zoning commission, the regulations would have to be approved by township trustees.
For townships without zoning, the engineer's office and Eastgate plan to work with the county planning commission.
The county doesn't have any authority over municipalities, but Kenner said she hopes those entities would adopt similar regulations.
Riparian setbacks are part of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency's best management practices aimed at reducing sediment in streams.
Getting it going
Michael P. Kurilla Jr., Austintown's zoning inspector, and Darren L. Crivelli, his Boardman counterpart, expect to go before the county planning commission early next year to begin the process.
"The subcommittee of AWARE hopes that if Austintown and Boardman adopt this, then other jurisdictions will follow suit," Crivelli said.
He said that for more urban townships, like Boardman and Austintown, it provides the opportunity to repair riparian areas over the next 25 to 50 years.
Development of the model legislation has been a lengthy process.
"The AWARE subcommittee has been grappling with this for a year," Kurilla said.
He stressed that riparian setbacks are like any other easement, like those for utilities or property entrances and exits.
"The property owner still owns it" there are just restrictions on its use, Kurilla said.