KELLER (CBS11) – The City of Keller is diving in to try to fix a rule inadvertently keeping people in the city from building swimming pools.
Dozens of people have run into the problem created by a policy meant to prevent flooding.
In 2015, the city included pools in its calculations for the maximum amount of property allowed to be covered by impervious surfaces. Those are essentially surfaces like homes and driveways that don’t allow water to soak into the ground.
Since then, Keller has initially denied more than a third of requested pool permits. Countless others, according to staff documents, have likely never been submitted due to the restrictions.
Rather than reduce localized flooding, the rule “may have caused a negative impact on desirability and property values,” according to analysis done by city staff.
The city’s planning and zoning commission has now recommended removing pools from the lot coverage requirements. The city council is scheduled to vote on the change in July.
The surface coverage limit for most single-family properties in the city is 50 percent. Pools were added to the total with the thought it could cut down on localized flooding of individual properties.
“Because at some point, pools become full and then they’re no longer collecting water they’re actually contributing to the rapid rate of water overflowing onto surrounding areas,” said Director of Public Services Trina Zais.
It didn’t have the intended impact on flooding, Zais said, but instead almost immediately became a problem for pool installation.
“Often, they had built such a large house, which is a good thing, they didn’t have anything left for pool and decking,” she said.
Don Hall ran into it in his backyard where he thought he had plenty of room to add a pool for his grandkids.
“The first thing they did is say we recommend denial,” he said. “And so it was like over.”
Hall ended up agreeing to remove a few feet of his driveway, and sidewalks leading to his backyard, in order to get his impervious surfaces below the 50 percent limit. It cost him an extra $5,000 he estimates though in the total cost of the work.
Keller has also heard from residents who say the rule has created an issue for selling their homes. Buyers are reportedly backing out of purchases, when they realize they would not be able to add a pool.
Zais said since the update, research has shown the localized flooding is more directly impacted by improvements in drainage easements. Flower beds, sheds and fences tend to cause problems, but they aren’t improvements the city is able to control through development requirements.
The plan is to use public education rather than a rule change to try to alleviate the issue.