Tuesday, February 12, 2008

At what cost development?

We have lived in Roanoke, Va. since 1989. Before that we lived in Columbia, Md. which is one of the more famous planned communities

Halifax, Nova Scotia was our home before Columbia. It was our first stop after we left cattle farm in central New Brunswick where we didn't even have to bother with fences at the back of the property.

Today we split our time between Roanoke and North Carolina's Southern Outer Banks where it seems much of the world including us is interested in living. Development is happening rapidly on the coast, but things like storm water management are rapidly becoming a serious challenge to developers.

The wonderful mix of mountains and scenery along the roads attracted us to Roanoke. I don't think we measured services too hard when coming to Roanoke. We wanted girls' soccer and boys' hockey but any shopping is more than you get on a farm twenty miles from town.

While Roanoke is in no danger of becoming Charlotte, NC which apparently has twenty five high rise cranes at the moment, there is some significant development in Roanoke like the Keagy Road site pictured above.

As usual there is even more significant debate on how to get Roanoke alive and if not thriving, at least growing reasonably.

There certainly is an effort to create trails along the Roanoke River which has seen a significant improvement in water quality. However, with a $70M flood control project by the Army Corps of Engineers well underway, I have to wonder if anyone is paying attention to the root cause of the flooding.

When you start stripping away huge areas of forest in the mountains, like in the picture of the development on Keagy road, someone had better start paying attention to storm water management.

It is a huge issue on the North Carolina coast. In our area of the Southern Outer Banks, it recently took several extra months to build a Walgreen's Drug Store because the store had to figure out how to retain up to eleven inches of rain before releasing water in the storm water drains.

I am pretty sure no one in Roanoke County has considered the storm water impact of the development at and around Keagy Village.

While the development in Roanoke rages over how to attract young professionals, it is pretty clear that if they don't start paying attention to storm water management, the Valley's crown jewel, the Roanoke River, will see more than one Corps of Engineers project as keeping flooding under control will become a hamster wheel.

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