UUFP Weekly Planning Update – Tabbs Lane, 2/21/24

Environmental Update

While the Tabbs Lane property will provide some environmental challenges, none pose a major obstacle to our future purchase or use of the building and the property as a whole.

This was the conclusion I shared at the February 11, 2024, Sunday Forum.

Tabbs Lane Church

So, let’s review what was discussed that day. The property is at an elevation of approximately 34 feet above sea level, well outside the risk of any storm surge. Most of the site drains to Lucas Creek, either through the woods to the east or to a roadside ditch that runs along Tabbs Lane. The roadside ditch also discharges in Lucas Creek. Lucas Creek is at least 15 to 20 feet lower than the church property, and the church is not located in a flood plain.

In the past, the church site was graded and constructed incorrectly. This resulted in rainwater either backing up in the “breezeway” between the sanctuary and the fellowship hall or flooding of the grassy field in front of the building. The major issue that contributes to the flooding is the gravel access road located on the south/southwest side of the building. This road functions as a dam constricting drainage of the accumulated stormwater near the building, including the breezeway. This nuisance flooding has entered the building and has caused some damage—hence, the sandbags that we found during our inspections. All the stormwater is the result of the large roof and the dysfunctional gutter system that yield water accumulation behind the road.

During the Sunday Forum, we discussed two possible remedies, one that works and one that does not. Bids were obtained in order to determine the possible cost in each case. For the permanent solution—the one that actually works—we estimate a cost between $65,000 and $90,000. This approach removes the gravel driveway that functions as a dam and addresses the gutters and structure of the “breezeway” between the buildings. This solution would reflect and foster our commitment to Green Sanctuary. In addition, it may help with the beautification of the church property and may assist in lowering the stormwater fee for the property, which currently is around $8,000 per year.  

The other remedy would have served only as a band-aid, and not even a good band-aid. This would include installing a backup generator and a better alarm to inform someone that the breezeway was flooding. We would also need to purchase an extra pump to evacuate the water from the breezeway. However, this would require someone to monitor the system 24/7 and would not be fail-safe. Clearly, we go with the true solution. 

Other items discussed during the meeting include:

  • The use of permeable pavement
  • Solar energy generation rooftops
  • EarthRising gathering location
  • Developing an edible forest
  • Walking trails and meditation areas

The pavement idea is fundamentally cost prohibitive. While solar energy may not be feasible at the moment, it could become an option at the time we replace the roofs. For the remaining three points, it was suggested that we create one or more committees to work on the development and implementation of these ideas. 

We hope to be able to share a recording of this Environmental Forum meeting soon.

In community,

Jan  Briedé, Ph.D.
Retired stormwater specialist for the Commonwealth of Virginia