Village Board Grants Variance Request For Siena Center Building Project

Wanting to break ground in July, Siena Partners asked for and got a variance for storm water runoff for what will likely be one of the largest building projects in the Village of Caledonia.

Assuming that a $45 million building project at the Siena Center gains approval, the amount of storm water runoff from the property will likely change.

The Caledonia Village Board approved a peak flow variance request put forth by officials representing the Tuesday evening. The request passed unanimously after only a brief discussion by the Board.

Siena Partner Inc., a partnership between the Racine Dominicans and Lincoln Lutheran, want to start building a $45 million senior living campus in July located at 5635 Erie St.

Civil Technician Al Jeske represented the Siena Center’s proposal, and stood in front of the Village Board to field questions.

“The request is necessary to move forward with the entire renovation project,” Jeske said.

Preliminary plans also include demolishing some of the buildings currently on the property, and adding parking lots. The renovation would be the largest in Village history. Officials with Siena Partners have yet to present formal planning documents to the Village Board, but they did hold on the project in January.

The storm water runoff plan presented Monday allows the Siena Center to have different storm water runoff requirements on the property by altering the peak amount of storm water allowed to run off the property directly into Lake Michigan. The existing storm sewer is lower than the two ponds that hold excess rainwater from buildings and parking lots on the Siena Center Property. The variation request adds two larger basins below the current storm drain. These basins would manage the increased rainwater runoff created by the future building and parking lot.

The request was needed because the redevelopment plan would cut down the current square feet of rooftop on the property, but it would add to the amount of parking lots.

Trustee Gerry Griswold questioned whether the future basins would be large enough and deep enough to handle the runoff needs of the entire property.
Jeske confirmed that they would, and added that both the current and future runoff plans meet all Department of Natural Resource requirements for storm water disposal.

The DNR requires redevelopment projects to have at least 40 percent of condensed solids, such as leaves and dirt, be removed from the storm water before entering the lake.

Susan Muncey, 57, says she is concerned that the request passed.

“I don’t know if they can control how much stuff runs into the lake. I live near Lake Michigan and don’t want the coastline eroding away,” Muncey said.

The Village Board added a condition to the request and asked that the Siena Center monitor erosion and water quality entering the lake.

Griswold said he didn’t expect any trouble with the higher amount of runoff going into the lake, saying that the added burden was “a small drop in a very large bucket.”

Jeske said the Siena renovation design documents would be finished as soon as possible. The next step will then be an appearance with the Caledonia Drainage Commission Board.

Denise Lockwood March 21, 2012 at 02:23 PM
So what do you think about this?
Kathleen A. Trentadue March 21, 2012 at 02:24 PM
The Siena Center project and request for a variance was reviewed by the Drainage Commission prior to going in front of the board on Tuesday March 20. The drainage commission recommended the board grant the variance for the project with conditions after their review. The drainage engineer will follow through to see that the project meets all the conditions of the variance. In normal conditions the future run off from the project is less than the present run off amount. That is why the variance was granted. There is an improvement taking place. It was not granted so the project could by-pass any restrictions given by the DNR. This variance meets the state requirements.
Denise Lockwood March 21, 2012 at 09:21 PM
Thanks for the info Kathy!
Tony Minto March 22, 2012 at 12:59 PM
One clarification - because the Siena project is a redevelopment the requirement is that 40 percent of TSS (Total Suspended Solids) be removed. The article states 80 percent removal, which is the requirement for a new development.
Denise Lockwood March 22, 2012 at 01:07 PM
Hi Tony, thanks for the clarification. I'll fix that.


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