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Managing Stormwater Through Improved Zoning Codes. Our Goal for Today. Increase Awareness: Local flooding can be reduced, and you can help Introduce New Concepts: Zoning code changes that include Best Management Practices can help reduce runoff Give You a Head Start:

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Managing Stormwater Through Improved Zoning Codes

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Our Goal for Today

Increase Awareness:

Local flooding can be reduced, and you can help

Introduce New Concepts:

Zoning code changes that include Best Management Practices can help reduce runoff

Give You a Head Start:

Assist communities to comply with NPDES Phase II Permit. Provide specific examples of how to retrofit your local zoning code

floods are not a new problem
Floods Are Not a New Problem


  • January 26, 1937 80.0
  • February 14, 1884 71.1
  • April 1, 1913 69.9
  • March 7, 1945 69.2
  • February 15, 1883 66.3
  • March 11, 1964 66.2
  • January 21, 1907 65.2
  • April 18, 1948 64.8
  • March 6, 1997 64.7
  • March 21, 1933 63.6
  • February 12, 1918 61.8
  • March 29, 1898 61.4
  • March 3, 1962 61.3
  • February 26, 1897 61.2
  • March 10, 1955 61.0

Spring Grove Cemetery -1937

floods are expensive
Floods Are Expensive

TAFT ASKS PRESIDENT BUSH FOR DISASTER DECLARATION FOR MID-JULY FLOODING IN BROWN, BUTLER, CLERMONT AND HAMILTON COUNTIESCOLUMBUS (August 16, 2001) – Gov. Bob Taft today asked the president to declare four southwest Ohio counties disaster areas because of an estimated $7.7 million in damages and costs to local and state government agencies due to flooding in mid-July.

“I have determined this incident, in concert with previous 12 month state disaster expenditures, now exceeds $12 million and is of such severity and magnitude that it exceeds the capabilities of the voluntary agencies, local and state government to recover,” wrote Taft in his letter to the president.

If granted, local governments in Brown, Butler, Clermont and Hamilton counties as well as the state departments of Natural Resources and Transportation, would be eligible for partial federal reimbursement for their costs and expenditures during their response to and recovery from the mid-July floods.

Taft also pledged in his letter that the state will assist local governments by paying up to one-half their share of any federal assistance. Generally, presidential declarations of a major disaster pledge the federal government to reimburse up to 75 percent of local expenditures.

Estimates of flood damage were prepared by state, federal and local emergency management agency personnel last week: Brown County, $586,000; Butler County, $1.5 million; Clermont County, $1.8 million, and Hamilton County, $3.7 million.

State government’s estimated costs from the southwest Ohio flooding included $37,000 for use of Civilian Conservation Corps personnel clearing debris at 25 separate sites in Clermont County and an additional $245,000 in ODOT personnel costs for the work of six separate work crews ….

Estimates of flood damage were prepared by state, federal and local emergency management agency personnel last week:

Brown County $586,000

Butler County $1.5 million

Clermont County $1.8 million

Hamilton County $3.7 million

Source is a News Release from the Ohio Governors office on August 16, 2001

basic definitions
Basic Definitions

Impervious Surface

Source Control Best Management Practices

A design solution that allows stormwater to seep into the ground before it can run off

Any hard surfaced, man-made area that does not readily absorb water

runoff and urbanization
Runoff and Urbanization

Source: Federal Interagency Stream Restoration Working Group, 1998

zoning can make a difference
Zoning Can Make a Difference

Some communities do not require site plan review…

But, they can.

Brentwood Plaza July 2003, prior to redevelopment

Brentwood Plaza September 2005, after redevelopment

zoning ordinances should not prohibit the use of bmps
Zoning ordinances should not prohibit the use of BMPs
  • Familiarize yourself with stormwater BMPs (in particular, source control BMPs)
  • Read through your code carefully
  • Look for language that is limiting
  • Encourage the use of BMPs when reviewing development applications
residential development changes to consider
Residential Development Changes to Consider:
  • Permitting the use of shared driveways
  • Setting maximum lot coverage requirements
  • Modify street design
  • Increase setbacks from sensitive areas
  • Considering the use of Planned Unit Developments (PUD’s)
allow shared driveways
Allow Shared Driveways
  • Reduces amount of pavement
  • Reduces stormwater runoff
  • Reduces curb-cuts onto roadway system

establish maximum lot coverage requirements
Establish Maximum Lot Coverage Requirements
  • 3-5.16 Pavement in Required Front Yards of Residential Uses
      • The impervious surface of the required front yard shall not exceed thirty percent (30%), except for lots having a width of fifty (50)feet or less, which shall not exceed thirty-five percent (35%).

Hamilton County Zoning Code, 2005

modify street designs
Modify Street Designs
  • Allow streets without curbs
  • Reconsider the use of typical piped storm system within streets
  • Encourage medians with swales to channel and absorb stormwater
  • Encourage Alternative Cul-de-Sacs

Modify Street Designs: Alternative Cul-de-Sacs

Center for Watershed Protection, 2002

increase setbacks from sensitive areas
Increase Setbacks from Sensitive Areas

937.05 C. Widths of Setbacks

Center for Watershed Protection, 2002

Summit County, OH Zoning Code, 2002

planned unit development pud
Planned Unit Development (PUD)
  • An alternative to conventional subdivision design
  • Encourages clustering to protect environmentally sensitive areas
  • Allows for innovative infill projects
  • Allows development standards to be relaxed for better site design, land use relationships, and conservation of natural resources.

Cluster Example – Ham. Co. Zoning Resolution, Chapter 4

non residential development changes to consider
Non- Residential Development Changes to Consider:
  • Require landscaping for commercial development
  • Require additional landscaping when minimum parking requirements exceeded
  • Allow for reduced depth of parking stalls
  • Establish Maximum parking space limits


non residential development changes to consider continued
Non- Residential Development Changes to Consider:(continued)
  • Create more flexible parking requirements
  • Allow shadow parking
  • Allow shared parking
  • Allow alternative pavement products
require landscaping for commercial developments
Require Landscaping for Commercial Developments
  • Increase required % of landscaping in interior of parking lots
  • Increase setbacks and open space requirements
  • Require landscaping on road frontage

require additional landscaping when parking space requirements exceeded
Require Additional Landscaping when parking space requirements exceeded

The minimum number of trees and shrubs for interior landscaping areas shall be calculated as follows:

Required parking: 1 tree & 3 shrubs per 15 parking spaces or fraction thereof.

Parking in excess of code requirement: 2 trees & 6 shrubs per 15 parking spaces or fraction thereof.

Zoning Resolution, Colerain Township

reduce dimension of parking spaces
Reduce Dimension of Parking Spaces

“…when a parking space or spaces abut a landscaped area, grassy strip, or yard, a maximum of two feet of the overall length (20 SF) of

any such space or

spaces may extend

into the landscaped

area, grassy strip or


City of Wyoming Zoning Code

establish maximum parking limits
Establish Maximum Parking Limits

“…minimum 4 spaces, maximum 6.5 spaces for each 1,000 SF of retail building.”

City of Montgomery Zoning Code

Ridgewater Plaza on Highland Ave. Photo courtesy of CAGIS

create flexible parking standards
Create Flexible Parking Standards

Source: Anderson Township Zoning Resolution, 2004; Fig. 145-B

permit shadow parking
Permit Shadow Parking

Shadow Parking:

A portion of the required spaces may remain landscaped and unpaved or paved with pervious pavers provided that the parking and unpaved areas currently is deemed unrequired.

Anderson Township Zoning Resolution, 2004; Sec. 145

Source: Anderson Township Zoning Resolution, 2004; Fig. 145-C

shared parking
Shared Parking

Parking Peaks


“Shared parking is encouraged and permitted if the multiple uses that the shared parking will benefit can cooperatively establish and operate the facilities.”

Anderson Township Zoning Resolution, 2004; Sec. 145 (D)(2)(a)

alternative pavement products
Alternative pavement products

Rhode Island Urban Environmental Design Manual, 2005

best management practices bmps result from policy changes
Best Management Practices (BMPs) result from policy changes
  • Incentives
    • Property Tax Reduction
    • Reduced Permit Processing Time
    • Floor Area Ratio Bonus
  • Zero Discharge
incentives tax reduction
Incentives: Tax Reduction
  • Reduction of Stormwater in some communities is assessed as a Value Tax on the property. If the builder designs systems to reduce stormwater runoff, the property tax is reduced.
    • Examples: Newport- News, VA. and the Portland, OR, Clean Rivers Act.

Incentives: Permit Processing Time

In other communities, the incentive is reduced time to get a permit. Chicago will cut the time in half to get a building permit if the building design has a greenroof.

incentives floor area ratio bonus
Incentives: Floor Area Ratio Bonus

Floor Area Ratio Bonus refers to a formula that allows builders to increase their floor area ratio in exchange for either a greenroof or porous pavement. The square footage permitted for the exchange depends on the particular zoning code. Examples are found in Portland, OR, and Minneapolis, MN, zoning codes.

zero discharge
Zero Discharge
  • Zero stormwater discharge from a 14-acre site:
  • Dramatic decrease in the amount of impervious surfaces
  • Various native landscaping strategies
  • Water features, including two ponds and a rooftop rainwater collection system
  • Rainwater channeled into a 38,000-gallon underground cistern, where it is filtered, chlorinated and then used in the building's urinals and water closets
  • Savings of close to 300,000 gallons of water each year

Alberici's headquarters, St. Louis, MO

Source Control BMPs


Source Control BMP Methods(may be included in zoning codes)

  • Porous Pavement/Pavers
  • Bio-Retention Swales
  • Rainscapes and Rain Gardens
  • Rain Barrels and Cisterns
  • Greenroofs
  • Riparian Corridors and Open Space Protection

Porous Pavement Allows Water to Pass Through into the Soil Below

  • Reduce Run-off
  • Filter Pollutants
  • Increase Groundwater recharge


  • Aggregate
  • Paver-Blocks
  • Porous Concrete
  • Porous Asphalt

Porous Pavement Installation

Heritage Park - Colerain Township, OH


Porous Pavement - Typical Maintenance Activities

  • Monthly- Remove debris sediments from the pavement area
  • Quarterly- Vacuum sweep to keep the surface free of sediment
  • Annually- Inspect the surface for deterioration
  • As Needed- Incorporate erosion control measures in surrounding areas

Source: Watershed Management Institute (WMI). 1997. Operation, Maintenance, and Management of Stormwater Management Systems. Prepared for: US EPA Office of Water. Washington, DC.

bio retention swale
Bio-Retention Swale
  • A shallow depression that collects water and permits its gradual absorption into the ground

Northern Kentucky Sanitation District No. 1


Bio-Retention Swales – Typical Maintenance Activities

  • At Project Completion- Water the plants daily for two weeks
  • Monthly- Remove debris and litter and inspect for erosion
  • Bi-annually- Treat or replace dead and diseased vegetation
  • Annually- Add mulch and replace tree stakes and wire

Source: The Stormwater Manager’s Resource Center -

rainscapes and rain gardens
Rainscapes and Rain Gardens
  • Recreate natural ecosystems
  • Help soil capture and filter rain water
    • Prevent pollution runoff
    • Prevent erosion
  • Recharge the groundwater

Photos taken by Christine Baeumler

rain barrels and cisterns
Rain Barrels and Cisterns raincist_specs.htm


Greenroofs Provide Excellent Opportunity to Control Runoff

Greenroofs :

Layers of growing medium and plants on top of traditional roofing system

Michigan State University

Chicago City Hall

Atlanta City Hall

greenroof capable of retaining 25 75 of stormwater runoff
Greenroof Capable of Retaining 25 – 75% of Stormwater Runoff
  • Types:
      • Intensive
      • at least 12” of soil
      • Extensive
      • at least 1– 5” of soil

Minnesota Urban Small Sites BMP Manual


Examples in the U.S.

Fencing Academy of Philadelphia

Seattle Justice Center


Examples in the U.S.

Ford Motor Company’s Rouge Plant in Dearborn, MI is the second largest greenroof, at 10 acres

Carrabba’s in Greensboro, NC

riparian corridor and open space protection
Riparian Corridor and Open Space Protection

Why the Need for Protection?

Great Miami River floodplain

in Miamitown –

January 2005

Would you park over here?????

riparian corridor and open space protection why
Riparian Corridor and Open Space Protection: Why?
  • Streams will meander across a valley over time
  • Homes and structures placed within this valley are subject to increased flooding, erosion, and property loss

Source of stream meander photo:


Typical Base Capital Construction Costs for BMPs

Source: USEPA Preliminary Summary of Urban Storm Water BMPs, August 1999.

Note: 1991 and 1997 costs increased by rate of inflation to reflect 2005 typical costs of BMPs in southwest Ohio.

riparian corridor and open space protection economic benefits
Riparian Corridor and Open Space Protection: Economic Benefits
  • Property values have increased 5 to 20 percent in residential areas located next to or within a greenway.
  • Homes and offices set in an environment with mature trees are typically more appealing and valued at a higher rate.
  • 43% of home buyers would pay up to $3000 more for wooded lots and 30% would pay up to $5000 more (National Association of Home Builders Survey.)
  • A survey of real estate agents: 84% believe a home with trees would be as much as 20% more saleable (Bank America mortgage survey.)
riparian corridor and open space protection economic benefits53
Riparian Corridor and Open Space Protection: Economic Benefits

Associated with Water Quality Improvements

  • Total outdoor recreational value in 37 activities - benefits exceed $172.4 billion annually
  • Recreational value of point source controls for water quality has been estimated to be $8.5 billion annually
in conclusion
In Conclusion

you can
You Can:

Develop Awareness:

Educate your commission, your council and your community about the possibilities of using your zoning code to reduce stormwater runoff and potential flooding.

Introduce New Concepts:

Promote the use Stormwater Source Control BMP’s among builders and property owners to reduce flooding in your community.

Get a Head Start:

Make changes to your zoning code to incorporate stormwater management practices that will reduce run off at the source.

Stormwater is a resource, and it is up to each community to manage it to prevent flooding!


Stormwater Zoning Code Project

Task Force

Brian Bohl – Hamilton County Soil & Water Conservation District

Nancy Ellwood – Mill Creek Watershed Council

Joanne Gerson – City of Montgomery

Todd Kinskey – Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission

Catalina Landivar – Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission

Terry Vanderman – City of Wyoming

Marc Beechuk – Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission

Bethany Hahn – Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission


Mike Harbison – City of Montgomery

Janet Keller - OKI

Amy Pursley – TEC Engineering

Susan Roschke – TEC Engineering

Tom Stahlheber – Delhi Township

Chandrima Pal – Graduate Student, University of Cincinnati