Sunset Hills Board of Aldermen approve variance to construct bathroom in floodplain


By Lucas Irizarry, Staff Reporter

The Sunset Hills Board of Aldermen unanimously passed the first and second reading of a variance to construct a restroom at Steiren Park April 26.

The ordinance was discussed by aldermen due to possible safety concerns and violation of the city’s floodplain ordinance, prompting the need for a variance. 

“We have (four) restrooms located in floodplains,” Gerald Brown, director of parks and recreation, said. “We’ve been dealing with flooding in Minnie Ha Ha Park since 2005.”

Brown said the city has a procedure in place for cleaning the area and the restroom after a flood in a park. He said the city cleans up any materials caught in vaults within the restroom and power washes the site. The restrooms are also constructed to allow water to run through vents instead of putting pressure on the walls of the structure.

The variance states that if it is approved, several criteria must be met after construction. This includes items like reducing danger during a flood and reducing the spread of any waste, and all items are addressed by staff in the report.

Ward 2 Alderman Casey Wong said he has heard concerns that the restroom did not meet the city’s 2-foot freeboard requirement, which is meant to keep it out of predicted flooding height. 

“The whole point of a freeboard requirement is you want to ensure residents are not dangerously building on a floodplain to their own demise,” Wong said. “Gerald and his team kind of have this routine down, it’s not like we’re risking life and limb here.”