To the editor:

Marist’s development application currently in front of the DeKalb Board of Commissioners is not problematic for its purpose or goal, rather Marist’s development application is problematic because in order to accommodate a part of their plan involving proposed recreational fields and additional parking, Marist is asking the Board of Commissioners to discard Section 14-39(g)(10) of the DeKalb Land Development code. Section 14-39(g)(10) is an important rule that prohibits the removal of trees from flood plains, except under certain conditions — conditions Marist cannot meet if it tries to build its playing fields and parking lot in the flood plain on the north side of Nancy Creek. If Marist succeeds in its attempt to eliminate enforcement of Section 14-39(g)(10), then all of DeKalb is negatively affected. 14-39(g)(10)’s prohibition of tree removal from flood plains is vital because a tree canopy in a flood plain serves a vital role. Flood plains perform important natural functions, including temporary storage of floodwaters, moderation of peak flows, maintenance of water quality, groundwater recharge, and prevention of erosion. A tree canopy within the flood plain provides storm water management and water quality benefits. Benefits include reduced soil erosion, greater infiltration of storm water, reduced storm water flow velocity, and removal of storm water pollutants. Forest soils actively promote greater infiltration rates through surface organic matter and macro pores created by tree roots. Forests also intercept rainfall in their canopies, reducing the amount of rain that reaches the ground. Evapotranspiration by trees increases potential water storage in the soil. Playing fields are little better than parking lots in terms of the function of a flood plain. Section 14-39(g)(10) was enacted years ago after citizen input and a public vote by the commissioners. We should not discard this important rule. If Marist feels the rule, which I am sure would be enforced against myself and other average property owners, has been unfairly applied against them, then the proper course of action would be to sue the county and let a judge decide.

Eric Hovdesven