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Howard to host meeting to detail studies conducted on flood-prone Ellicott City

Howard to host meeting to detail studies conducted on flood-prone Ellicott City
People peruse displays during a public meeting where Howard County officials present several plans they're considering to mitigate future flooding in Ellicott City. Officials field questions from a crowd gathered at Howard High School on May 2. (Doug Kapustin / For Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Howard officials will host a public meeting later this month to discuss yearlong research on flood-prone areas throughout the county.

The studies were mandated by legislation filed last June by former Councilman Jon Weinstein, a Democrat who represented the historic district until last year, after a flood ripped through the town, resulted in millions in damage and left one person dead.

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County officials will detail findings and recommendations alongside consultants from Biohabitats, KCI Technologies, McCormick Taylor and Century Engineering.

Officials will also explain ongoing flood mitigation projects in the watersheds, including Main Street culvert improvements.

Weinstein’s bill bars development from occurring in the Tiber watershed, where the historic district sits.

The measure required the county to study the impact of creating a special benefits district for the Tiber and Plumtree Branch watersheds to finance stormwater infrastructure and flood easement improvements. It also stipulated studying if development in the watersheds contributed to flood events and for researchers to submit recommendations on changes in the law to protect the watersheds from future flooding events.

A proposal to extend the development moratorium through October was filed late last month by Councilwoman Liz Walsh, a Democrat who represents the old mill town. The measure is poised to pass.

The meeting will take place from 6:30 to 8 p.m. May 21 at the Howard County Library System Miller Branch in Ellicott City.

The county is expected to announce by next week which flood easement plan it will choose. The options under consideration require razing at least four buildings on lower Main Street.

The three cheapest range from $63 million to $91.5 million and would take four to six years to complete. They propose razing at least four buildings and would leave between 4 feet and 5 feet of average water depth on lower Main Street in the event of an event similar to the 2016 flood.

The two most expensive proposals cost between $113.5 million and $175 million and would take five to seven years to complete. They would raze four buildings and leave an average maximum of 2 feet to 3 feet of water on lower Main Street in the event of a flood.

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