Oct 12, 2021 - Real Estate

Des Moines metro's $15K stormwater warning

Illustration of pattern of houses partially submerged under water
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

New homebuyers are paying as much as $15,000 more on property lots due to regulations linked with a new regional stormwater plan, the Home Builders Association of Des Moines (HBA) warns.

  • Des Moines and West Des Moines are expected to consider adopting the plan in coming months.

Why it matters: The plan aims to address regional flooding by calling for stricter design standards to capture and slowly release rain. That typically means more land is needed.

  • Yes, but: The HBA says a financial analysis was never conducted and costs of implementing the plan can be excessive.

State of play: Dozens of community leaders who've worked on the plan for the last five years — including some city representatives — are now trying to get it adopted across the metro.

  • Multiple Des Moines City Council members argued last week that it'll work best if the whole metro gets on board.
  • Urbandale, Clive, Waukee and Johnston have already approved it. Ankeny rejected the plan on its final reading in May after HBA officials warned about extra costs.

How it works: New developments of more than 10,000 square feet of impervious area would generally have to follow the new standards.

  • It typically requires between .4% and 1.5% more land for stormwater management, according to DSM Public Works Director Jonathan Gano.

What they're saying: HBA spokesperson Kevin Johnson, who's also president of Accurate Development in WDM, told Axios some developers of individual properties have found the costs can be overwhelming because of design challenges.

  • The association wants to reverse the plan's adoption in cities across the metro, and derail it from being implemented in other areas, he said.

The other side: Gano told Axios the plan is widely supported by neighborhood leaders and multiple citizen advisory groups.

  • Des Moines hasn't performed a cost analysis but believes it's far less costly than some of the HBA projections, he said.

What's next: Des Moines will vote on the ordinance next month.

  • It would go into effect Feb. 1, if approved.
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