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Changes should streamline processes for developers, better protect local water systems

Gresham City Council voted unanimously to both update its public works standards and stormwater management plan to better care for the environment and streamline processes for developers during its meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 16.

The creation of the Stormwater Management Manual consolidated and updated old standards, while meeting new Oregon Department of Environmental Quality standards.

"This new approach doesn't just improve water quality, it's a wholistic approach to stormwater management," said Torrey Lindbo, with the department of Environmental Services, who gave the presentation.

The new development practices will remove pollutants and improve water quality without shifting the current flow of waterways and preventing runoff. It will prioritize green infrastructure like rain gardens through incentives, and will allow for flexible ways to achieve goals.

"We are making a simple process for builders and developers," said Council President Kirk French.

For some commercial and industrial businesses, new requirements for cover, pavement and drainage have been put in place to prevent incidental spills making their way into the water system. Staff worked with the fuel industry and other groups to make sure the proposed changes didn't put undue burdens on business.

"I like the collaboration to hear and adjust (the plans) to make it work for everyone," said Councilor Janine Gladfelter.

These changes were initiated by city council a little over a year ago. A second reading and enactment of the changes will occur on Nov. 20, with the effective date set for the start of the new year.

The council also voted to update its public works standards, which function like recipes for how public infrastructure gets built. The goals were to make documents less redundant and reflect best practices for public infrastructure design and construction.

Some of the changes include simplifying the street lighting design process, adding options for construction materials for storm pipes and water services and increasing the general utility easement from 6 to 8 feet.

"Our standard was too narrow to fit all the utilities needed," said Steve Fancher, director of Environmental Services.

The city also consolidated street classifications from 57 to 22, making things easier for developers. The second reading for the public work standards will also occur on Nov. 20, and be effective on Jan. 1.

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