UDF Plans new station on old site in Delaware

PAUL COMSTOCK
editorial@thisweeknews.com
United Dairy Farmers representatives are proposing to replace the UDF service station at 123 W. William St. with a larger building. Delaware Run, which flooded May 19, runs beneath the station, as well as the adjacent section of William Street and Boardman Park on the other side of William Street.

Delaware Run, which overflowed and caused widespread flooding May 19, runs beneath several streets and businesses in downtown Delaware.

One of the businesses -- the United Dairy Farmers gasoline station and store at 123 W. William St. -- is proposing to replace its building with a new structure, and city officials said the improvements would help keep Delaware Run flowing under the site.

Delaware City Council has scheduled a public hearing on the project. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 7:20 p.m. Sept. 28.

Council on Sept. 14 gave readings to ordinances that would grant UDF a conditional-use permit and approve a preliminary development plan for the project.

A city report attached to the Sept. 14 council agenda said UDF plans to replace the 3,530-square-foot building with a new 4,061-square-foot structure slightly to the east.

UDF purchased three adjacent properties, that will enlarge the site to 0.76 acre.

The finished project will have 29 parking spaces and four gasoline pumps.

The entrance from Liberty Street will remain and the plan calls for two access points from William Street, one for right-in, right-out only, the staff report said.

City planning director Dave Efland told the city planning commission Sept. 2 -- in a meeting livestreamed on Facebook -- the project will improve the condition of a culvert that carries Delaware Run under the gas station and the walls of an open section of Delaware Run that flows along the nearby U.S. Postal Service office.

"This is an opportunity to really channel, to harness the economic power of a new development" to make improvements to the waterway, Efland said.

"There's probably a temptation for some to give sort of overvalue to the flooding events we had earlier this year with respect to this site.

"And I would submit that nobody on this meeting has felt those more directly than the applicant in this case, the UDF," he said.

"They are certainly the last individuals ... that would be interested in making that situation anymore impactful to themselves or anybody else in their own community as a result," Efland said.

"We take any development in the floodplain very, very seriously ... and we go through our due diligence in that regard," including following requirements of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, he said.

Deputy city engineer Matt Weber told the planning commission that replacing the culvert under UDF with one with a smoother interior can be expected to improve flow during high-water conditions.

Planning commission member Jim Halter, a resident of Castleton Way, said he has lived near Delaware Run for 25 years, and the creek has overflowed with increasing frequency in recent years.

He predicted the UDF project further would restrict the flow of Delaware Run.

He also asked who is responsible for keeping the creek free of debris, such as tree limbs.

Photos taken during the May flood, Efland said, showed "clearly headroom left in this pipe. ... There was room between the top of the water and the top of the pipe. ... That leads one to believe that it's not necessarily the capacity of that pipe that's the issue."

"There is plenty of regulation to protect against what Mr. Halter has concerns over," Weber said.

Individual deeds and easements will affect responsibility for routine cleaning of the creek, Weber said, but during flooding incidents, the city utility and public-works departments will be trying to clean the floodway as much as possible.

With Halter dissenting, the commission voted to forward the UDF plans to council.

The planning commission meeting may be viewed on Facebook.

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