When the Baldwin County Association of Realtors was chartered in 1957, each meeting of the organization drew about 20 people. At the June 21 breakfast meeting at the Baldwin County Annex building, 130 people were on hand to eat, conduct business, …
When the Baldwin County Association of Realtors was chartered in 1957, each meeting of the organization drew about 20 people. At the June 21 breakfast meeting at the Baldwin County Annex building, 130 people were on hand to eat, conduct business, meet new members and hear a presentation on storm water control.
At the meeting, several local realtors were inducted in the first Baldwin County Association of Realtors Hall of Fame and Martha Taylor, who has worked for the organization for over 25 years, was made an honorary member of the Hall of Fame.
Members of the organization also discussed finding suitable property in the Robertsdale area for a building in which to move, since Robertsdale is a more centralized location. The present office is in Fairhope.
David Yeager, director of the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program, made an in-depth presentation on the importance of storm water management for coastal Alabama, especially Baldwin County, which is experiencing extremely rapid growth.
Noting the rapid urban growth of Baldwin County (Yeager predicted the population of the county will reach 300,000 by 2016), where the landscape is changing from one of sand, farmland and trees, to one of pavement and structures, with more impervious surfaces, will cause environmental problems that will eventually reduce the quality of life along the coast.
“That population growth will have a tremendous impact. There will be an increase in run-off, which will cause flooding, erosion, channel erosion, increased pollution, destruction of natural habitats and sedimentation in creeks, rivers and Mobile Bay.
“Where you have grass and forests, 90 percent of the water goes into the ground. In urbanized areas, it runs off. Eventually, you will have decreased aesthetics and a decrease in property values,” he told the realtors.
Yeager said municipalities often have few resources they can dedicate to the issue of storm water run-off and the problems caused by it. He said some the municipalities do have requirements for detention ponds and green space for developments, but he said some of municipal requirements are better than others and there is no uniform requirement throughout the county.
“Somebody has got to deal with storm water management, across political boundaries and on a regional basis,” he said, suggesting a Baldwin County Storm Water Cooperative be established. He said the organization would be a voluntary, non-regulatory association of local communities. “It would help the municipalities to work together on a regional basis,” he said.
Yeager said a “small, equitable storm water user fee” could fund the project. He said the storm water cooperative would be “answerable to local governments” and that it would “protect areas of natural resources.” He said 12 of the 13 Baldwin County municipalities have passed resolutions supporting enabling legislation for a storm water management organization for the county.
Enabling legislation for a storm water management organization passed the Alabama House, but was held up in the Senate by wording changes. Yeager said it should be reintroduced in next legislative session.
Showing pictures of the Los Angeles River, which was once a flowing river but has long been a paved drainage ditch, Yeager said long-range planning on how to handle the impact of storm water as the county grows is “absolutely critical” in order to protect the environment and maintain a good quality of life.
“A healthy economy depends on a healthy environment. This is something we need to start thinking about now,” he said.