County OKs Johnson Lane flood plan |

County OKs Johnson Lane flood plan

A woman takes a picture of the flooding on Kayne Street in between Johnson Lane and Stephanie Way during July 8, 2015, flooding.
Brad Coman

While there isn’t anything new about flash flooding in Johnson Lane, the county approved money and a new organization to reduce future damage.

Former East Fork Justice of the Peace Don Garrison told commissioners that he was taking a nap one afternoon in 1964.

“It was just after I got a new lawn put in and a couple of hundred trees,” he said. “I heard rumbling and looked out my window and saw boulders rolling across my yard and 3-4 feet of water coming across Fremont Street.”

When Garrison moved in there were about 14 homes in the Johnson Lane area.

He recounted another flood in October when it snowed a foot and a half in the Pine Nuts and then all melted, sending water into the neighborhood.

“All that land was undeveloped,” he said. “We didn’t complain about it, we just dealt with it. This can’s been kicked down the road for a long time.”

County commissioners accepted the Johnson Lane Area Drainage Master Plan at their Aug. 23 meeting.

They also introduced a rewrite of the floodplain management code and approved a stormwater management plan.

Because they dedicated $1.1 million from the general fund for the stormwater maintenance plan, commissioners discontinued discussions of establishing a stormwater utility that would have included impact fees.

County Manager Larry Werner, whose tenure ends Friday, said a feasibility study conducted to implement the utility would be packed up and saved to provide a starting point should the county decide to implement one.

Resident Mike McMackin, a geologist, said he was pleased to see the report.

“This is progress,” he said. “We’re headed in the right direction, but the problem is a tricky one. You inherited a number of problems due to partial development that leads to poorly planned communities.”

He said one of the remaining issues is where the washes through Johnson Lane meet the roads.

“We have serious problems where natural drainages encounter roadways,” McMacken said. “The flood problem occurs once the wash intersects Johnson Lane where an artificial channel leads to a roadside ditch with less than half the volume. It loads up with sediment.”