NORFOLK, Va. — Neighborhoods dealing with severe drainage problems now have the option to fix the issues with their own money.
Norfolk city council members have approved a Special Service Districts (SSD) Policy.
It gives Norfolk residents a pathway to fund projects in their neighborhood.
By paying an additional real estate tax, residents will be able to put their money toward projects involving flood issues, dredging, coastal protection or improving water quality.
Phillip, a Norfolk resident who declined to give his last name, lives near the Hague. The area is prone to flooding.
“Even when it's bright and sunny outside, if its high tide, you’ll see flooding in the street without any rain,” said Phillip.
Phillip said he’s open to the idea of paying for his own flood fixes.
“I think most folks would be interested in paying just a little bit more, as long as it’s reasonable to protect their assets,” said Phillip.
Andria McClellan, a Norfolk City Council Member representing Superward 6 pushed to give residents the option.
McClellan herself lives in a flood-prone area, and on some days, she has struggled to get to work when her neighborhood floods.
McClellan said giving residents the ability to pay directly toward projects is just another available tool in dealing with the issue of flooding.
“This is not something that we’ve created on our own. This really comes as a result of constituents saying ‘What more can you do? What more can we do?'” said McClellan.
“We’re at a tipping point where folks say, ‘We don’t want to wait any longer for the city or the state or the federal government, and we’ve gotta get started on this.’ People get concerned that we’re talking about flooding too much. My answer to them is: Our feet are wet. It’s happening. It’s going to continue to happen and if you are a business or individual near the water, you want to be in Norfolk because we are being proactive and we’re looking at all the tools.”
McClellan said more than likely, residents would pay toward a project the city has already identified for the area but has been unable to fund.
While neighbors now have the option of an SSD, there is a formal process they must undergo before the city implements a project where they live.
Residents will initiate the projects by coordinating with Neighborhood Development and Public Works to identify the project’s geographical location and its feasibility. From there, at least 30% of the neighborhood must sign a preliminary petition. After that, 75% of the neighborhood must formally pledge its support of the SSD Plan and 50% of the total property value must also support it.
Once a neighborhood meets the required support for the SSD Plan, it will go before City Council for approval and implementation.
Phillips said if a project in Ghent aims to solve the problem of flooding, he’s willing to pay extra taxes.
“If you wanna see this neighborhood, the way it is, 100 years from now, there needs to be some solution because the water’s gonna come,” said Phillips.
Several areas of Virginia Beach have already implemented projects funded by residents for dredging and sand replenishment.