The September 27 Republican reports that the city of Greenfield will buy and raze a 4-family house on Beacon Street to resolve persistent flooding problems there:
“The deal will allow the city to avoid the costly installation of larger culverts to keep an underground brook from flooding the property…
“The development has eliminated a large amount of land that used to absorb rainwater, but now just sends it on to the brook…
“The total bill for the project is estimated at $252,300, including purchase, demolition and [detention] pond creation…”
This story illustrates why it’s unwise to encourage development in flood-prone areas, and unwise to compromise natural drainage systems. Inviting developers to pave and build close to our in-town wetlands, as Northampton’s new wetlands ordinance does, is not smart growth, and may require costly interventions in the future.
We are specifically concerned about Kohl Construction’s proposal to place a good deal of impervious surface within 50 feet of the wetlands behind North Street (original plan, latest update). Our neighborhood is already no stranger to flooding.
Northampton’s Flood and Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan: Wetlands Buffers of 100 Feet Are an Effective Flood Mitigation Strategy and Should Be Consistently Enforced
Northampton Open Space Plan: “This loss of habitat and natural flood buffering areas is Northampton’s most serious environmental problem”
Northampton: Millions of Dollars of Property Outside the Official Floodplain Vulnerable to Localized Flooding
EPA: Wetlands and Flood Protection
The Economic Value of Wetlands: Wetlands’ Role in Flood Protection in Western Washington
Alex Ghiselin, Letter to Gazette: “Don’t let development encroach on our wetlands”
The failure of the storm water system built as a part of the Northampton High School renovation six years ago illustrates why protecting wetlands is so important. Silt has filled the retention pond so there is no capacity to slow a storm surge which now flows unimpeded into the Mill River and contributes to flooding downstream. This accumulated silt also raised the water table and spills ground water into nearby basements…