In efforts to reduce the city's liability following future flooding events like the city recently experienced, changing the requirements of the city’s drainage ordinance were denied Monday during the Mitchell City Council meeting.

The proposed changes to the city’s drainage plan submittal requirements come after the devastating mid-September flooding wreaked havoc to many Mitchell residences and businesses. The ordinance change was seeking to mandate all commercial developments submit a drainage plan that’s city approved, which was unanimously denied at City Hall.

Following the flooding, Mitchell Mayor Bob Everson said several residents have pointed to the city as being responsible for any drainage problems areas had during the flooding due to the city approving developments and the drainage plans included.

“We had a lot of people pointing the finger at the city during the recent flooding, because we approve developments and the drainage plans that go with,” Everson said. “This would reduce the liability of the city in the event of a severe rainstorm.”

In addition, the ordinance change was asking that all other developments over 1 acre provide the city with a drainage plan. Under the existing ordinance, the city may require an approved drainage plan for any commercial development that is at least 1 acre. However, it’s not specifically mandated the way the ordinance is written, according to City Attorney Justin Johnson. The existing ordinance also requires a drainage plan for any development that is 1 acre or more.

Council Vice President Dan Allen criticized the proposed changes, and said the requirements would deter welcoming new businesses and create additional financial burdens for developers.

“I think it’s just another burden on the owners or developers to have to get more stamps of approval by a city engineer,” Allen said.

In response, Johnson said the existing requirements put the city at significant risk following the rainstorm that drenched Mitchell in 7 to 10 inches of rain.

Allen alluded to the Planning and Zoning Commission’s existing process of reviewing the drainage plans of future developments, and said the additional requirements are unnecessary.

“I can’t support it,” Allen said. “I sit on the Planning and Zoning Commission, and they run through the drainage plans. Once in a while, we might recommend they go get an engineer to review the drainage plans.”

Public Works Director Kyle Croce said he would like to see the Planning and Zoning Commission provide more support and focus on drainage plans for future developments, citing the city panel leaves a lot of the drainage plan reviews up to the city.

“Particularly for drainage, I feel like the process is the Commission says, ‘go ahead and get with the city and figure out the drainage plans,’” Croce said. “The Planning Commission doesn’t take a lot of input or even require the plan to be provided, and I think that’s where we get into some problems.”

By implementing the additional drainage plan requirements, Croce said it could also help reduce future drainage problems in the event of severe flooding.

Croce provided rough estimates of what the drainage plan reviews would cost, which range from $6,000 to $12,000.

Upon hearing the rough estimated costs of the drainage plan reviews that would have been required for all commercial developments, regardless of size, along with any other developments over 1 acre, Council member Susan Tjarks expressed her concerns that could arise for aspiring small businesses looking to build and develop in the city.

“I’m a small business owner, and if I were to build a new spot knowing that I would have to invest an additional $6,000 to $12,000, I would be uneasy with that expense,” Tjarks said. “I feel like that’s a lot to ask out of a small business.”

To emphasize the need of approving the changes, Everson explained a recent situation that arose between the city and a local developer. Everson said the city suggested a commercial development that was just shy of an acre to submit a drainage plan prior to approval. According to Everson, the request to submit the drainage plan was contested by the developer, which added challenges due to the city’s existing ordinance language.

“We determined in that area the development should have to submit a drainage plan, but because the ordinance says it ‘may’ need to be submitted, arguments arose,” Everson said. “The city will then risk taking on the liability of that if that area floods badly due to the drainage.”

After further discussion, Council member Jeff Smith suggested taking a better look at how the Planning Commission reviews drainage plans moving forward.

“We want to promote building in our city, and under this situation, I feel that if it would have been looked at and discussed at the Planning Commission, we as the City Council could then look further into it,” Smith said.

Taking Smith’s lead, the council unanimously denied approving the proposed changes to the city’s drainage plan review process.

Consent agenda

The following items were considered as part of the consent agenda:

  • Approved the minutes of the Sept. 16 council meeting.

  • Approved the minutes of the Sept. 23 Planning Commission; Sept. 16 Traffic Commission meeting.

  • Approved department reports.

  • Approved the following raffle permits: VFW Post 2750 with the drawing to be held on Dec. 21, 2019; Corn Palace Shrine Club with the drawing to be held on Dec. 31, 2019; MANA-Mitchell Area Networking Association with the drawing to be held on Jan. 9, 2020; John Paul II School with drawing to be held on Jan. 23, 31 and Feb. 7, 13, 21, 28, 2020.

  • Set the date for the following bid opening: Oct. 8, 2019 for Phase II of the Corn Palace Plaza project.

  • Approved automatic supplement of a $11,102.42 grant to the General Fund for the Police Department’s 1st Net Radio equipment.

  • Approved change order No. 2 to Menning Backhoe, LLC for the East Central Drainage project.

  • Set the date for the following hearing: Oct. 21, 2019, for a proposed resolution regarding necessity for construction of Sam Street from Maui Drive to the northwest direction approximately 900 feet.

  • Appointed Nick Bakhtiari to serve on the Corn Place Board Entertainment Board, representing the Chamber of Commerce’s executive board.

  • Approved Sept. 10, 19 and Oct. 7 gas and fuel quotations.

  • Approved Sept. 16 pay estimates.

  • Approved bills, payroll, salary adjustments and new employee hires.

Other business

  • Pledge of Allegiance, received invocation from Wesleyan Church, roll call, heard citizens’ input.

  • Approved consent agenda.

  • Met as Board of Adjustment.

  • Held hearing and approved the following: Terry & Frances Rietveld’s application for a back-yard (road side) variance of 22 feet vs. 30 feet as required for construction of a new home at 95 S. Harmon Dr., legally described as Lot 48 & 49, Indianhead Addition, city of Mitchell, Davison County, South Dakota. The property is zoned (R2) Single Family Residential District.

  • Set the date for the following hearing: Oct. 21, 2019, Ronald Fessler's application for a side-yard corner variance of 10 feet vs. 20 feet as required and a backyard variance of 22 feet vs. 25 feet as required for constructing an addition and garage at 1107 W. Seventh Ave., legally described as east half of lot 1, block 3, Bracy's Addition, city of Mitchell. The property is zoned R2 Single Family Residential District.

  • Reconvened as City Council.

  • Approved a moving permit for Dave Goldammer to move the “Mod Building” east of Mitchell High School to 324 W. Tenth Ave.

  • Approved Agreement No. A2019-43, Mitchell Animal Rescue supplemental services agreement.

  • Approved Agreement No. A2019-44, Dry Run Creek topographic survey project No. 2019-33A with McLaury Engineering.

  • Approved Agreement No. A2019-45, Northwest Drainage Study, a drainage study for the city to examine three areas in the city, which will assist for future planning and identifying improvement projects for areas that frequently flood. The contractor would be McLaury Engineering, and the study would include evaluating areas from Eighth to 23rd avenues and Sanborn Boulevard to the railroad tracks. The study would cost the city $39,000.

  • Approved Resolution No. R2019-67, a plat of lot 20, block 6 of the Woods First Addition, a subdivision of the east half of the southwest quarter of section 23, township 103 north, range 60 west of the fifth prime meridian, city of Mitchell.

  • Approved Resolution No. R2019-68, a plat of lot 10, block 4A of Westwood First Addition, a subdivision of a portion of tract A-2 and block 4 of Westwood First Addition in the northwest quarter of section 16, township 103 north, range 60 west of the fifth prime meridian, city of Mitchell.

  • Approved Resolution No. R2019-69, a plat of lot 5, block 9 of Westwood First Addition, a subdivision of block 4 of Westwood First Addition in the northwest quarter of section 16, township 103 north, range 60 west of the fifth prime meridian, city of Mitchell.

  • Approved Resolution No. R2019-70, a plat of Lot 8, Block 9 of Westwood First Addition, a subdivision of block 4 of Westwood in the northwest quarter of section 16, township 103 north, range 60 west of the fifth prime meridian, city of Mitchell.

  • Approved resolution that allows the city to apply for bike and pedestrian trails transportation and alternatives.

  • Held second reading on Ordinance No. O2019-22, amending the city chapter codes for the Corn Palace Entertainment Board.

  • Held second reading on Ordinance No. O2019-21, revising Mitchell City Code Title 4, Chapter 4, vehicles for hire, by reorganizing, renaming and amending the sections.

  • Tabled discussion regarding the Mitchell Baseball Association and Dakota Wesleyan University’s request to install artificial turf at Drake Field.