The village of Brookfield is moving toward amending its storm water management ordinance in order to encourage commercial and residential property owners to move ahead with improvement projects that stalled due to the high cost of providing onsite storm water detention.

In 2015, the village board initiated several flood-mitigation initiatives which included passing a comprehensive storm water management law after a wave of heavy storm events between 2008 and 2013 flooded streets, yards and basements in many parts of the village.

Parts of that ordinance included new rules for detaining storm water onsite – in residential backyards, below commercial parking lots, etc. – in order to avoid that storm water flowing directly into the combined sewer system and overwhelming it.

Among the new demands by the village were site grading plans for newly constructed homes, driveways to avoid storm water being directed onto neighboring properties. In addition, any impervious improvement in excess of 300 square feet triggered a requirement that the property owner provide onsite storm water detention for a 3-inch rainfall, through dry wells, rain gardens or other means.

However, such a requirement increases the cost – as much as doubling it – causing homeowners and commercial property owners to put off the work and let existing driveways or parking lots crumble.

“I understand why you’d adopt a stringent code,” said Brookfield Manager Timothy Wiberg, who was hired for the job in 2018. “You want to eliminate overtaxing the sewer system. But, by having such a code, several people have been hesitant to move forward on any type of improvement because of the expense.”

Calling such requirements “a balancing act,” Wiberg argued that the present code is resulting in neither greater storm water management nor property improvements. Wiberg said he knows of about a half dozen such projects that have stalled because of the cost of providing new onsite storm water detention.

On Aug. 26, Village Engineer Derek Treichel provided a couple of examples of commercial parking lots – the one next to the former Tony’s Family Restaurant location at 9414 Ogden Ave. and DJ’s Scuba Locker at 9301 Ogden Ave., whose improvements have stalled due to the cost of the added storm water management requirement.

According to Treichel, the estimated $10,000 to $15,000 it would cost to resurface the severely deteriorated parking lot at the former Tony’s property would increase to about $20,000 to $25,000 with the storm water requirement.

“What we’re finding is that lots like this, rather than us getting improvements and storm water management, we’re getting neither,” Treichel said.

Wiberg and Treichel are proposing to amend the storm water management ordinance by basing it on maintaining the status quo. If a single-family or multi-family property wishes to replace a driveway, patio, garage, etc., with the same size impervious surface, there would be no need to provide storm water detention.

However, the storm water management rule would kick in if you plan to add 300 or more square feet of impervious surface to the property. All new single-family and multi-family developments still would automatically trigger rear yard storm water management.

For commercial properties, simple resurfacing of existing parking lots will in the future be considered routine maintenance not triggering storm water management.

Brookfield village trustees are expected to adopt the recommendations at their meeting on Sept. 9.