Sep 19, 2018

Ellicott City, Md., Considers $50 Million Flood Control Plan

The plan, if approved, would include demotion of 19 buildings to expand a channel for the Tiber River

Historic mill town concerns expanding flood control measures
Historic mill town concerns expanding flood control measures

On Sept. 17, the Howard County Council held a legislative hearing on plans to mitigate flooding in Ellicott City, Md. The council is considering three bills needed for a five-year flood control plan that would include the demolition of 19 buildings to expand a channel for the Tiber River. The county has been investigation storm water management solutions for years, but a major flood May 27 underscored the need for a flood control solution. The town received more than 8 in. of rainfall in the Memorial Day weekend flash flood that required more than 300 rescues by emergency responders.

The proposed flood control plan would cost $50 million and requires approval from the county’s Historic Preservation Commission, a majority vote by the council and approval from the county executive, as reported by The Baltimore Sun. During the six-hour hearing, 66 people testified and the resident response was largely supportive of the storm water management proposal. Six people who were impacted by the May 27 flood shared their experiences and advocated for the approval of the bills.

“Any visitor to any historic city or town in the world is aware that cities and towns change over time,” said Matthew Fleming, president of the Ellicott City Partnership. “Cities and towns are living things. They evolve–shaped by events such as floods and fires and wars. Ellicott City is no different.”

However, some residents contend that the proposed removal of 19 buildings may lead to the town’s removal from the National Register of Historic Places. Ellicott City is a historic town in a valley that used the region’s rivers and streams to power mills.

“The history and heritage of Ellicott city goes beyond those who live here,” said Elly Colmers Cowan, director of engagement for Preservation Maryland. “Bringing the buildings down is irreversible.”