State emergency management director visits flood site in Manatee
The Centre Lake subdivision has seen devastating floods in recent years. On Thursday, commissioners wondered if a new subdivision built nearby would make flooding worse for existing homeowners.
Developers asked the Board of County Commissioners to consider a project just north of Tallevast Road along Prospect Road that would bring 143 new single-family homes to a 41-acre lot in the area. Commissioners immediately expressed concern for the Centre Lakes neighborhood.
The issue, county staff said, is that the nearby Pearce Canal isn’t an ideal drainage area and stormwater retention ponds are engineered to withstand a standard 8 inches of runoff in a 24-hour period.
“We know we have a flooding problem in this area. I understand by law y’all are designing it and you’re fulfilling what you have to do, but I also know it’s not going to work,” said Commissioner Priscilla Whisenant Trace. “One day we’re going to have another flooding problem and it hurts me when people have that water in their house.”
A 2017 no-name storm left more than a dozen residents with water in their homes. Those residents sent emails to commissioners questioning the need for more development in a flood-prone area.
“Aren’t there plenty of places in Manatee County for you to build? Can’t you stop building around us?” Centre Lake resident Michele Durling wrote. “I think it’s time for all the flood victims to have another meeting with the commissioners to see what you are doing about this problem.”
Another resident asked if there was “the potential of flooding from the new development into the current ones.” Thomas Gerstenberger, the county’s stormwater engineering division manager, explained that the development of the new Prospect Road subdivision should actually decrease runoff in the area.
According to Gerstenberger, the project must “demonstrate no adverse drainage impacts” for the surrounding property and must also reduce stormwater runoff in the development area by 50 percent.
That bit of information made commissioners feel more comfortable with approving new homes in the area. They voted unanimously to allow the development.
“I just want to make it clear that developing this land won’t make it any worse. It can only make it better,” said Commissioner Misty Servia, who represents the area.
Even still, Trace urged county staff to rethink how stormwater is stored and whether it would make sense to not store as much stormwater in designated drainage areas that are prone to flooding.