Planning & Development

8 steps you can take to weather the storm

By Debbie Stickles, Graduate Engineer, Planning & Development Services

With heavy rains from Hurricane Laura possible in our area, it’s an excellent time to review necessary safety precautions and take appropriate actions to protect your family and property.

  1. Determine your risk at noaa.gov or consult local media for updated storm information, including trajectory forecasts. It’s also a good idea to sign up to receive emergency notifications from Brazos County.
  2. Households may have different storm preparation needs. Essential supplies to gather include first aid kits, flashlights with extra batteries, non-perishable foods such as protein bars and canned goods, and a three-day water supply. For more information, go to ready.gov.
  3. Move your garbage and recycling containers to a safe area where storms won’t blow them away or knock them down.
  4. Be water smart, and turn off your landscape irrigation system. Irrigation systems are intended to supplement the rain and can cause problems if they operate during a storm.
  5. If you live near a creek or other water bodies, secure your outdoor furniture to prevent it from entering the storm drains and seek shelter elsewhere.
  6. Move brush piles to higher ground to keep vegetative waste from blocking stormwater drainage paths and creeks.
  7. Report public safety issues such as downed electrical lines and flooded or blocked roadways to the College Station Police Department’s non-emergency number at 979-764-3600.
  8. If you approach a flooded roadway or intersection, don’t attempt to drive through the water. Turn around, don’t drown.

College Station is no stranger to the effects of hurricanes and tropical storms. If you take a little time to prepare, you can successfully weather the storm once again.

 


About the Blogger

Debbie Stickles is starting her sixth year as one of the city’s graduate engineers. She previously worked as an engineering specialist in the Railroad Commission of Texas’ Oil & Gas Division from 2014-15. A native of Carrizo Springs, Debbie received a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering from Texas A&M-Kingsville in 2013.


 

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We need your input about College Station’s future

By Alyssa Halle-Schramm, Long Range Planning Administrator

As part of the City of College Station’s 10-year review of its Comprehensive Plan, we’ve created a virtual workshop to gather your input on our community’s future. The online Community Choices Workshop will be live from July 13 through Aug. 3.

A series of activities will help you make choices about how and where the city grows. To participate, go to cstx.gov/TheNext10 starting Monday. You can also join an email list to stay up-to-date with project news. 

The Next 10

The Next 10 is an extensive effort to evaluate the city’s Comprehensive Plan, consider recent growth and best practices, and identify city policies that need updating. The Comprehensive Plan is the strategic guide that expresses the community’s values and aspirations. It establishes a long-range vision for development, housing, transportation, parks, the environment, economic development, and other related topics.

College Station’s plan was adopted in 2009 and covers a 20-year horizon. It’s meant to be a living document that’s regularly evaluated and updated. Since we are 10 years into the plan, we need your input about how the next decade should unfold.

Last summer, the initiative began with the establishment of the Evaluation Committee and meeting with community leaders. We also conducted a series of public workshops and an online survey to get input about the existing plan. You can review that feedback at cstx.gov/TheNext10.

These efforts will result in an Evaluation and Appraisal Report — anticipated this fall — that recommends changes to the Comprehensive Plan. Once the city council accepts the report, we’ll begin drafting update amendments, which will be made available for public feedback and will go through the public hearing process at planning & zoning commission and city council meetings. Formal updates are expected to be made in 2021.

How to Participate

By living, working, attending school, or raising a family in College Station, you know our community. We encourage you to share your ideas and opinions to ensure College Station’s direction represents the community’s authentic voice. The input you provide will be an essential component of the Evaluation and Appraisal Report.

In one Community Choices Workshop activity, you’ll be asked about potential improvements to the Comprehensive Plan Future Land Use Map, which serves as a guide for how areas of the city may develop. Several updates are being considered, including renaming, simplifying, and refining the Future Land Use category definitions and changes to how land uses apply to various areas. You’ll be asked to react to examples of potential changes.

In another activity, you’ll be able to share your preferences on scenarios that illustrate potential options for six areas. The scenario planning activity uses performance-based criteria to depict trade-offs among possible outcomes. Please note that the alternatives are hypothetical scenarios meant to test options and solicit feedback.

You’ll be asked to choose one of three options — how the area is developed today, an anticipated outcome under existing policies, or what may be possible with policy changes. You can provide open-ended feedback about your likes and dislikes, and anything else you’d like us to know.

The future can unfold in many ways. Your participation in the virtual Community Choices Workshop will help us more accurately gauge the community’s preferences.

For more information, visit cstx.gov/TheNext10 and watch the videos. You can also contact me at 979-764-3570 or aschramm@cstx.gov.

 


About the Blogger

Long Range Planning Administrator Alyssa Halle-Schramm has been with the city since 2018. She previously worked at Austin Community College, UT-Austin, and Hanover County (Virginia). A native of Wilmington, N.C., Alyssa earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from North Carolina-Wilmington in 2010 and master’s degrees in public administration and urban and regional planning from Virginia Tech in 2013.


 

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3 steps to make sure you’re ready for a flash flood

By David Vaughn, Engineering Program Specialist

Did you know flash flooding is the No. 1 cause of weather-related damage in Texas? Sadly, our great state often leads the nation in flood-related deaths.

As part of Texas Flood Awareness Week, the City of College Station reminds residents to be prepared.  Heavy rain and coastal storms can overburden our drainage systems and structures and lead to flood events. Knowing what to do before, during, and after significant storms can prevent or limit property damage, injuries, and loss of life. 

Floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States. They can develop slowly or happen with little or no warning. In either case, staying informed and anticipating such events is essential. 

If you live in a flood-prone or low-lying area, preparing for such emergencies is even more crucial. Here are three steps you can take today to make sure you’re ready:

1. Stay Informed

  • Know your flood risk. Visit FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center online or call the Planning and Development Services Department (979-764-3570) and ask for a review engineer to learn more about your property. 
  • Learn and rehearse evacuation routes, shelter plans, and flash-flood response.
  • Monitor weather forecasts and be aware of signs of potential flooding, such as heavy rain.

2. Take Action

  • Purchase flood insurance if necessary. It usually takes 30 days for a new insurance policy to go into effect, so it’s important to buy well before a disaster occurs.
  • Make a photographic inventory of your valuables for insurance purposes.
  • Keep valuable documents in a waterproof container and make digital copies when possible.

3. Gather Supplies 

  • Have a potable water supply that will last at least three days. You need one gallon of water per day for each person or pet in your household.
  • Have enough non-perishable, ready-to-eat food to last at least three days. Examples include canned meat and beans, nuts, nut butters and spreads, dry cereals and granola, and protein bars.
  • Keep structural supplies on hand such as sandbags, plywood or lumber, and plastic sheeting.
  • Make sure your flashlights and lanterns have good batteries. 
  • Always have a well-stocked first-aid kit.

If you’re adequately prepared, you enhance your chances of staying safe and protecting your property. That’s what Texas Flood Awareness Week is all about.

 


About the Blogger

David Vaughn recently joined Planning and Development Services as an engineering program specialist. He previously worked as an environmental coordinator for FedEx Express from 2015-20. A native of Silsbee, David earned a bachelor’s degree in geology from Sam Houston State in 2016.


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Completing the census remains an essential civic duty

By Jade Broadnax, Staff Planner

A constructive and valuable way to serve our community during these uncertain times is to complete the 2020 U.S. Census — and remind others to do the same.

Lawmakers, business owners, and many others will use census data to make critical decisions in the next decade. The population count will show where our community needs improvements for schools, clinics, roads, and more services for families, older adults, and children.

The census has never been easier to complete, even for historically hard-to-count populations. You can help by not only participating yourself, but by encouraging your family, friends, and neighbors to take part, too.

Reply Sooner, Not Later

If your household is like most, you have received a mailed invitation that includes a code to complete the census online. But even if you haven’t received the request, you can still complete the form online, by phone, or by mail.

The deadline for you to complete the census online has been extended to August 14. Census takers will begin visiting those who have not taken the census to gather the information. If you complete the form now, you can help reduce the number of census takers going door-to-door, which is essential during the COVID-19 outbreak.

We encourage you to help ensure the disabled or elderly you know have the tools to complete their census. A complete count helps identify services that can directly benefit them. Give your neighbors a phone call, shoot them a text, or ask (from a safe distance) if they’d like help checking the mail for their census invitation.

Your Information is Protected

The U.S. Census Bureau is bound by law to protect your answers and keep them strictly confidential. The Census Bureau cannot release identifiable information about you, your home, or your business — even to law enforcement agencies — and includes no citizenship question. Every census employee also takes an oath to protect your personal information for life.

The law ensures your private data is protected, and that your answers can’t be used against you by courts or government agencies. Violating that law is a federal crime punishable by prison time and a fine of up to $250,000.

Students: Follow the 3 C’s

With the recent closures of Texas A&M and Blinn College, we expect students to leave their off-campus housing and go “home” to another city. Under the Census Bureau’s residence criteria, in most cases, students living away from “home” at school should be counted at school, even if they are temporarily elsewhere due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you’re a college student, follow the 3 C’s:

  1. COMPLETE the Census: If you live in College Station most of the time while attending school, you should complete the census according to your physical address here. Even if you are on an extended spring break in Colorado or went “home” to Houston and don’t have access to your mailed census invitation, you can complete the census online, by phone, or by mail.
  2. COORDINATE with roommates: If you live with roommates in College Station, coordinate with them to ensure that one roommate completes the census for everyone at that address. 
  3. COMMUNICATE with families: Talk with your family to ensure you are counted at the address where you live most of the time. Your family has the option to include you in their census count but should answer “Yes, for college” when asked, “Does this person usually live or stay somewhere else?”

It only takes a few short minutes to complete the census, so why are you waiting?

For more information, go to 2020census.gov. The site also includes updated timelines due to COVID-19.

 


About the Blogger

Jade Broadnax is in her third year as a staff planner and project manager. A native of Chicago and Houston, Jade earned a bachelor’s degree in Urban Planning and Development from Ball State in 2017.


 

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Proposed amendment addresses impervious cover

By Anthony Armstrong, Engineering Services & Construction Inspections Manager

Driveways, parking, and accessory areas are a necessary part of any residential development. Unfortunately, if they cover too much ground, these water-limiting – or impervious – surfaces can often wreak havoc through flooding and erosion.

Impervious surfaces are any materials or construction that limit the absorption of water by covering the natural land surface. Materials used for landscaping in non-loadbearing areas aren’t considered impervious surfaces.

In College Station, the problem has emerged as the city has grown, especially in the redevelopment of lots in older neighborhoods that lack modern drainage and retention capabilities. Existing city regulations don’t limit impervious surfaces, which means residential lots can be completely or mostly covered.

A proposed amendment to the Unified Development Ordinance would provide a maximum percentage of a lot that may have an impervious cover. The percentages vary and would be implemented and assessed based on the zoning district, or a detailed engineered design.

The Planning and Zoning Commission will consider the amendment at its next meeting on Thursday, Feb. 20, followed by city council action on March 9. Both meetings will include a public hearing.

Newer neighborhoods with detention assume a certain amount of impervious surfacing when designed. The proposed amendment would allow them to abide by those assumptions.

The regulations would apply only to residential zoning districts and would not include multi-family and mixed-use zoning designations. Those zoning districts and commercial/non-residential districts would still require a detailed drainage analysis of individual lots as part of the permitting process.

Here are the proposed redline changes in the UDO:

 


About the Blogger

Anthony Armstrong PE has been with the city since 2016 and is in his first year as Engineering Services & Construction Inspections Manager. A native of Bulverde, Anthony served as an engineer with CME Testing and Engineering after earning a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Texas A&M in 2015.


 

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Survey another way to express views on city’s future

By Justin Golbabai, Long-Range Planning Administrator

In late September, the City of College Station conducted a series of four public workshops as part of the 10-year update to the city’s Comprehensive Plan. Since the topic was about College Station’s development road map for the next decade, we expected a strong turnout.

We asked for enthusiastic public input, and that’s what we got.

More than 200 residents participated in the workshops, providing essential insights on our present and future growth patterns. The gatherings also generated vital feedback on how residents think the city should develop.

We offer our sincere gratitude to all who attended the workshops, but if you weren’t able to attend, don’t worry.

An online survey — in English and Spanish — is open through Oct. 16. If you missed the workshops, the survey is a meaningful way to contribute your input about our community’s present and future growth patterns.

The workshops and the survey play a crucial role in the city’s evaluation and reassessment of its 2009-30 Comprehensive Plan, our policy roadmap to plan, anticipate, and guide growth and development over 20 years. The Next 10 process is considering current conditions, recent trends, and best practices, and is involving the community in shaping our growth and development.

Your valued input will lead to changes and updates to the Comprehensive Plan and Unified Development Ordinance, the policies and regulations that affect new development. We hope to have the evaluation process completed by late next summer.

For more information and to sign-up for email updates, go to cstx.gov/TheNext10.

 


About the Blogger

Long-Range Planning Administrator Justin Golbabai, AICP CNU-A has been with the City of College Station since 2016. He previously served the City of Austin for nine years in various capacities, most recently as Neighborhood Partnering Program manager. Justin has also worked for the cities of Savannah (Ga.) and Overland Park (Kan.). A native of Windsor, Conn., he received a master’s in public administration from the University of Kansas in 2006, and a bachelor’s in economics and sociology from The University of Notre Dame in 2004.


 

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