Flooding Mitigation

On June 15, 2022, the City’s Stormwater Department released an amended draft of the Notice of Sale and Design Guidelines for the 9 city-owned homes on Carleton and Western Avenues. The amendments were based on responses received at the May 19, 2022 virtual meeting between impacted neighbors and city staff.

Some neighbors expressed concern that the option for elevated houses or new builds could change the character of the bungalow neighborhood. It was noted there are already a number of two-story homes on Carleton and Western Avenues that are built next to single-story bungalows. The amended Design Guidelines ensure that the potential elevated homes or new builds will not be allowed to be any taller than what is currently allowed under the current A5/Single Family zoning on Carleton and Western today.

Here is the timeline for next steps:

  • Nine homes on Western and Carleton that the City owns are currently in the process of being appraised.
  • End of summer 2022, the City will issue a Notice of Sale for a single developer to buy 9 of the 11 homes the City owns. The developer has the option to either demolish all 9 homes to build new homes that are 2 feet above flood level, or elevate the existing homes 2 feet above flood level, or a combination thereof.
  • Two of the 11 homes purchased by the City were purchased with FEMA funds and must be removed, probably by the end of the summer. These two empty lots on Western Ave. can never be developed to have structures on them.
  • Interested buyers have 60 days to respond to the Notice of Sale after it’s been published.
  • Offers will be evaluated by city staff and a small committee of impacted homeowners.
  • If an offer is accepted, the sale of the properties is anticipated to be completed by the end of 2022.
  • The buyer has 30 months from purchase date to complete the elevations and/or build out.

This plan is not a done deal. If a developer with an acceptable offer is not found, the City says it will excavate a below street-grade municipal stormwater detention basin that’s about 4 times larger than the one by Walgreen’s. The basin will be excavated to a minimum depth of 10-12 feet, according to Jennifer Dyke, Program Manager for the City’s Stormwater Department. She says the City will not consider leaving this area as an at-grade open green space. Construction of the stormwater detention basin is estimated to take 30 months to be completed, according to the City’s power point presented on 10-24-2018.

The municipal stormwater detention basin has been repeatedly rejected by a wide margin of the neighbors, going back to the City’s 2011 survey. Most neighbors prefer leaving this area privately owned and residential with homes and neighbors living next to them, instead of a large unsupervised municipal stormwater detention basin that’s open to the public.

Objections to the municipal stormwater detention basin that have been voiced by impacted neighbors include:

  • The stormwater detention basin doesn’t solve the flooding problem–that will require removing 60 homes in the area to make a difference. Why sacrifice 11 historic homes that are integral to our neighborhood for a bandaid fix that doesn’t stop the water from coming down to our neighborhood?
  • Why doesn’t the City put in a municipal stormwater detention basin where it will make a difference, like upstream from our neighborhood?
  • Why did the City even buy these homes? Some of them have never flooded.
  • As a taxpayer, I want to see homes there that will generate property taxes, rather than a public municipal project that’s a liability to the City and requires tax dollars to maintain it.
  • I want these homes to remain in private hands; I do not want to live next to a municipal stormwater detention basin.
  • I feel safer having neighbors living next door to me rather than a large unsupervised space that’s open to the public
  • This stormwater detention basin will not be a private park just for the residents. It will be open to anyone and everyone, including Arlington Heights High School kids, the homeless and vagrants.
  • Where will visitors park their cars when they come to use the area for meetups or parties?
  • Who will clean up their trash?
  • Who is going to pick up the dog poop?
  • What happens when a wino adopts the detention pond for his regular hangout?
  • Who will enforce the hours of occupancy when there are vagrants in the detention area in the middle of the night?
  • Who will remove late night visitors?
  • How will rodents and feral cats be dealt with?
  • This will not be a park. It’s a municipal stormwater detention basin that’s maintained by the Stormwater Department, not the Parks Department.
  • I want to be able to call my neighbor or knock on their door if there’s a problem, rather than call the Stormwater Department.
  • A municipal stormwater detention basin this large will dramatically change the character of the neighborhood much more than elevated/newly built homes.
  • The municipal stormwater detention basin must be excavated to at least 10-12 feet deep, according to the City. Construction of it will require boring down and removing many, many tons of dirt that has to be hauled away by heavy trucks traveling on our narrow neighborhood streets. Construction of this detention basin is far more disruptive than elevating existing homes or building new ones.