Town Crier Articles

BMP and BRBs in New Town: A Retention Pond Primer
Posted on December 1, 2020 7:00 AM by Patti Vaticano
Categories: General
Stormwater Management Facilities or Best Management Practices (BMPs)— “Stormwater BMPs”—are an integral part of any new construction or land development project, today, whether commercial or residential. They are recognized by James City County as key components in improving water quality of all waterways in the Tidewater Area by removing pollutants from rainwater. As defined on the County’s website, rainwater falling on the ground and running across the earth’s surface as stormwater “collects leaves, grass clippings, pet waste, litter, lawn fertilizers, pesticides and more” into area streams, ponds, and rivers, and BMPs are key in minimizing the negative effects of these pollutants on our water ways. There are nearly 800 BMPs in the County, 27 of which are located in New Town, and all are inspected by the County every 5 years using industry standard reporting. Owners of the properties upon which BMPs are located are legally responsible for providing basic annual maintenance to the structures and to make any repairs that may be needed. Typical BMP owners are homeowner associations (HOA), private communities, commercial retail properties, and business property owners.
Of the 27 BMPs in New Town, only three are true BMPs, retention ponds that contain water at all times, and are clearly visible to passersby. The remaining structures are “bio-filters” or Bio Retention Basins (BRBs) that help with the maintenance of the BMPs. BRBs are water filters which syphon off stormwater impurities before reaching the BMPs. They do this through a layered system of gravel and mulch in an effort to maintain the integrity of the BMPs and to avoid expensive dredging costs more often than should be necessary for maintaining the BMPs according to County standards. James City County’s criteria for maintaining BMPs contains specific strategies. Semi-annual mowing, generally in the spring and the fall, no more than 6-8 inches from the ground, repair of holes and bare areas in all concrete structures, and maintenance of flow pipes to make sure they are not broken or overgrown with vegetation.  
New Town employs two contractors to meet the County BMP criteria for structural maintenance. Mowings are covered in our current landscaping contract and the structural and water treatment needs are contracted to Aquatic Resources Management (ARM) for which $3,200 is currently budgeted. ARM repairs broken concrete, treats for mosquitoes by adding an algaecide colorant dye to the water to inhibit larvae from hatching, and applies a herbicide preventative to the water to inhibit cattail growth.
Of the three BMPs, the large wet pond at the end of Olive Drive in Charlotte Park will be turned over to NTRA ownership in the near future. The two remaining BMPs (located behind the Goddard School and adjacent to the SunTrust parking lot) are owned by the New Town Commercial Association.  New Town’s BRBs are more numerous.  Four are owned outright by the NTRA and are located at the corner of Casey and Town Creek Drive, the corner of Town Creek Drive and Lydias Drive, and in Magnolia Park (Rollison Drive and Luanne Way). Four BRBs are currently owned by Atlantic Homes but will similarly transfer to the NTRA in the very near future.  All are located in Charlotte Park: at the termination of Rollison Drive, behind the homes on Olive Drive, (most notably behind 4408 Olive) and at the termination of Christine Court. Two BRBs in Shirley Park are also owned by Atlantic Homes but will be turned over to the NTRA later.  As with the BMPs, the BRBs are also governed by JCC maintenance guidelines.  In 2018 for example, several BRBs, including the one at Christine Court, were cited for contaminating silt and in need of repair or replacement of special soil, mulch, and vegetation.
Village Walk has two BMPs, and their management and maintenance have not had smooth sailing.  Among other problems, they have had serious conservation issues such as damaged fencing and invasive vegetation that have threatened the integrity of their retainment walls, one 15 feet high and upon which the homes on Greenview are located, and another 30 feet high next to the homes on Trailview & Trailside. (See photos) Addressing the maintenance needs of these BMPs has been problematic, because their conservation has been compromised by the insolvency of AIG Baker the original developer of Settlers Market who once owned them.  Without clear ownership, meeting the County criteria for structural repairs and maintenance has not been possible. There has, however, been a recent breakthrough in the conundrum.   
An October walk-about with County representatives and interested Village Walk homeowners reviewed all the issues needing correction to meet County BMP maintenance criteria, such as the removal of vegetation growth, silt fencing repair, the cleaning out of basin trash and debris, and structural repairs and modifications of pipes and channels. With assistance from County staff, the Board of Directors was able to contact the current responsible party--Rosenthal, a property management company based in Northern Virginia. Rosenthal will be addressing the County concerns and has hired Triad Construction Company to begin maintenance of both BMPs soon. All County conservation issues will be addressed on these BMPs, including the removal of invasive vegetation that can be very destructive to the retaining structures and repair of damaged fencing. Phase I, to include the clearing of the access roads to both ponds, the removal of old silt fencing, and the eradication of all brush between fence and retaining walls, begins this week. Crews working 10-hour days should be able to complete Phase I in 3 to 4 weeks. Larger repairs will be addressed in the new year.
Greenview BMP     
Trailview BMP
Comment By: Richard Durst
Posted on December 1, 2020 1:27 PM
Excellent, informative article, thanks!