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Floodplain changes move forward

October 13, 2018

La PORTE — Plans to remove La Porte residents from a floodplain are moving forward.

It was announced at the Sept. 26 La Porte Redevelopment Commission meeting that the developers have applied for a letter of map revision to remove the floodplain status from NewPorte Landing.

This was made possible by the installation of a lake drain, which allows water to be moved out of Clear Lake when the water level gets too high.

The drain was installed in 1999 in order to mitigate flooding. Because the floodplain status was established prior to the drain installation, the developers have to gain approval from both the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

This drain, theoretically, eliminates the risk for flooding in the area, and substantiates the development’s case for map revision.

This installation makes it easy for water to pass out of the lake and into a 20-acre stormwater lagoon. The lagoon is part of the wastewater department’s campus.

After the water reaches the lagoon, it gets released into Travis ditch. The ditch leads into the Kankakee River.

Both the drain and lagoon are controlled by the Wastewater Department, who are responsible for discerning when the lake water is discharged. The Kankakee River has to be at a low enough elevation in order to safely drain the excess lake water into the river.

No fill is scheduled to be added to the area where NewPorte Landing is being built, with the exception to the tiny pond in which the former Allis-Chalmers factory used for dumping. Filling in the pond is not part of the letter of map revision. It is being filled in due to the pond being of very low quality.

In order to fill in the pond the developers will have to get permitted through DNR as well as the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

“There’s a lot of steps you have to go through whenever you want to fill in anything, and we’re going through those steps, accordingly,” said City Planner Beth Schrader.

The map revision will eliminate the necessity for mandatory flood insurance that would be imposed if the development were built on a floodplain. Flood insurance cost an average of about $700 per residence, annually.

At least 150 homes will benefit from the removal of the floodplain. An additional 40 homes will have the opportunity to be removed from the floodplain provided the property owners get their homes surveyed.

Many of these homes are located near Pine Lake and along the channel that connects Lily Lake with the Hennessy Wetland.

Much of the public land surrounding Clear Lake will also be effected by this change in zoning. The land is earmarked for public recreational development.

No additional residences in the surrounding area will be required to buy flood insurance due to this change.

“It’s a net-positive,” said Schrader. “No one is going to have to get flood insurance that didn’t have to before.”

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