Citizens coalition advocates for residential flood reform
by Jennifer Taggart
Citizens Coalition for a Better Broadview Heights, a group of residents that formed in fall 2020, is working with Broadview Heights City Council on developing tighter flood regulations during the city’s six-month moratorium on residential developments that began in October.
Marilyn Houdek, a founding member of the group, lives near the proposed 36-townhouse Ledges of Broadview Heights project was to be built. She began to attend city council meetings and found fellow residents who shared her concerns regarding flooding issues and other proposed residential developments in the city, including a 14-lot subdivision on Harris Road.
She and a group of residents began emailing each other information regarding new developments and decided to create a Facebook group.
“Our goal is to keep people aware of what’s going on in our community,” Houdek said. “We believe that informed citizens can make our city a better place to live, work and play.”
Houdek submitted a letter for the Oct. 5 city council meeting detailing her concerns regarding building the Ledges of Broadview Heights on a property in-between two single-family homes and surrounded by “wetlands, creeks and hilly terrain.” Several other residents submitted similar letters.
Council eventually voted down the Ledges proposal, going against the Planning Commission’s recommendation to approve the project.
“They had a couple of issues on it,” Council President Robert Boldt said of the proposed development at the time. “Council just didn’t want to move forward on it at this time.”
The citizens coalition also submitted an informal petition with 26 signatures to request a moratorium on new developments. Council passed the 6-month moratorium Oct. 19.
“They really listened to what we were saying and really tried to help us,” Houdek said. “We really appreciate that, because I know in a lot of other cities, they don’t.”
Houdek said that the Citizens Coalition for a Better Broadview Heights has influenced discussions during the moratorium to tighten stormwater regulations and reform how residents are notified when there is a newly proposed development in the city.
The Broadview Heights Safety Service Committee decided at its Jan. 4 meeting to increase regulations for storm drainage facilities from being required to accommodate a 50-year storm to being able to accommodate a 100-year storm.
A 100-year storm is a storm event that has a 1-percent chance, or one in 100 probability, of occurring in any given year.
“They’ve agreed that we’re having a lot more 100-year storms than we’ve ever had,” Houdek said.
Citizens Coalition for a Better Broadview Heights has approximately 50-60 members in its mail group and approximately 120 members in its Facebook group. The groups meet several times a month on Zoom and have created a newsletter to keep residents informed.
Residents interested in the group can join the Facebook group or email Houdek at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We’re not here to be a disruptive force or anything; what we want to do is to work with the city,” Houdek said. “To bring what’s going on in the city to other people who live here and also to bring our neighbors’ concerns to the city.”
Feature image photo caption: From l-r, Marilyn Houdek, Chris Colasent, Rita Colasent and Bonnie Perfetto are just some of the members of the recently formed Citizens Coalition for a Better Broadview Heights, which is working with the city to manage stormwater flooding. Photo by J. Kananian