Downspout Dilemma?

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By Sharon Daly

Commish Chris Harris tells us that the VFP has no ordinance against in-ground downspouts. Can anyone explain how this is possible? In the case of new construction, does the village have the 'power' to insist on above-ground downspouts or are we doomed and our Electeds and the whole damn Building Department should just go home and clean up the flood mess in their homes? 

Chris reports he has requested such an ordinance and that it be enforced upon transfer of property (property sale.)

Odds & Ends:

1) After the FloodFest at the Community Center three years ago, Commish Tom Mannix told me the village would need Home Rule in order to enforce a downspout ordinance.

2) The village talks about downsputs a lot.

3) Yes, we understand that there are a minority of properties where above-ground downspouts are not an option, for safety and other reasons.

4) As VFP requires home inspections before a property can transfer, do they need Home Rule to insist that GFI outlets be installed next to the bathtub? 

5) Forest Park homeowners deserve a clear, sensible answer.

UPDATE: from Chief Glinke...

"The Village has for many years prohibited direct connections to the storm/san system for new construction although I cannot give you a time when this became the standard.  Permitted connections for "development" are covered in Chapter 11 "Flood Control" of the village code.  This requires engineering/MWRD review and approval and does not apply to single family dwellings. 

For the three years I have been Director, the Department has made every attempt to require disconnection (for surface discharge) of downspouts as part of the title transfer inspection.  The qualifying "every attempt" is a function of practicality.  Simply put in over-built urban areas there are circumstances whereby disconnection may exacerbate surface flooding and create neighbor-neighbor disputes ANY time it rains.  I respectfully disagree that such cases represent a "minority" as  you suggest.   We get downspout/dispute calls frequently.

The enforced code of this office comes from the International Property Maintenance Code, Section 507 Storm Drainage, "Drainage of roofs and paved areas, yards and courts, and other open areas on the premises shall not be discharged in a manner that creates a public nuisance".    There simply is no one-size-fits-all solution and this is yet another example of the difficulties we encounter when attempting to apply contemporary building codes to a 100+ year old densely built environment." 4/22/13

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Reader Comments

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Sharon Daly from Forest Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 23rd, 2013 10:00 PM

Glinke's statement above ^ in blog UPDATE.

Sharon Daly from Forest Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 23rd, 2013 9:57 PM

Steve Glinke weighs in...

Bill K from Forest Park  

Posted: April 23rd, 2013 7:07 PM

The Village is bound to the MWRD requirements for downspouts and storm water management. the link that we a combined sewer system community is provided. beginning on page 12 and specifically section 6.2 on pg 13 speaks to downspout discharge. unfortunately Mr Mannix is incorrect that we need to be a home rule community to amend our building code to disallow downspouts from discharging into our combined system.

Sharon Daly from Forest Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 22nd, 2013 11:05 AM

River Forest is having a meeting April 29 to discuss options to prevent flooding, funding, cost effective, etc. Nice website.

village ord online?  

Posted: April 22nd, 2013 9:47 AM

@ SB -- my bad, pre coffee, thanks for the correction.


Posted: April 22nd, 2013 9:42 AM

Oh and for keeping mini-farms out of the village. Huge worry about people raising chickens on their parkways!


Posted: April 22nd, 2013 9:41 AM

There's no time for downspout codes in our village. We have to work on codes for beauty shops and tents on the streets! Much more important.

Sharon Daly from Forest Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 22nd, 2013 8:38 AM

@ Jason, again. You write about downspout village code, "It's YOUR job to know and announce it, not city hall's job." Wrongo, on every conceivable level.

Sharon Daly from Forest Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 22nd, 2013 8:26 AM

@ Jason. Real journalists don't ask questions about village code. LOL. Yes, the Sterling Code is right at our fingertips but that is not the same as 'interpreting' village code, or 'enforcing' village code. Why do you think God invented lawyers? I trust Chris Harris is correct that we have no ordinance on the issue. Why the village has not addressed this issue (they're the ones who bring it up!) is what gets me all sputtery and un-journalistic.

Steven Backman  

Posted: April 22nd, 2013 8:11 AM

Easy Jason & VOO. First here is the link to all of the VFP ords: It is easily found at the VFP website. Second, Here is the only language that comes up when searching the ords for downspout: "Plans of each floor, or of typical floors, shall be submitted, which shall indicate the entire plumbing system, including plumbing fixtures, drains, soil, waste, vent, DOWNSPOUT pipe, building drain piping, pumps and equipment, and all main water supply pipe, risers and main branch lines within the building." IOW, nothing that fits the discussion here. If you find something better/constructive, post it. Otherwise we hope Chief Glinke will weigh in.

village ord online?  

Posted: April 22nd, 2013 5:56 AM

Second Jason's view, at a minimum all bloggers for every local newspaper should have a hard copy of their village ordinances on their desks. </snark> Speaking of which, closest I could find online was Cicero's - Searching for "downspouts" sec 98.203(3) "Downspouts. All downspout or roof drains shall be connected to the storm or combined sewer. No downspouts or roof drains shall be connected to the sanitary sewers." Why FP's not online?

Jason Aaronovsky  

Posted: April 21st, 2013 11:39 PM

Sharon, I'm a bit confused. Are you a journalist? If so, you would have at your fingertips every bit of village code; chapter and verse. If you do not have that and are just flailing your hands in the air in confusion, you're not a journalist. Which makes you just a loudmouth citizen-crank. Is there a downspout law or not? It's YOUR job to know and announce it, not city hall's job.

Sharon Daly from Forest Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 21st, 2013 11:04 PM

Ok. i've sent an email to Chief Glinke asking 'do we have and ordinance on downspouts' and why this issue might be unique to code enforcement. Harris must be terribly busy today and Calderone only has time for Facebook. In any case, downspouting should not be a mystery to the village - it's a decent portion of a Flood Prevention Program, to use the term loosely. Maybe it's just a 'suggestion' so no parties are forced to invest $25 for the greater good and no votes will be lost?


Posted: April 21st, 2013 11:50 AM

Doesn't matter, Sharon. The village doesn't follow up anyways! The 4 flat next to me was supposed to do things within 90 days of transferring hands. Lets see, it's been at least 6 years.....still waiting for that peeling paint on their porches (which face my hom) to be painted! Contacted the village with no changes ever made. Our village has no follow up skills. Just empty promises.

Sharon Daly from Forest Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 21st, 2013 11:23 AM

@ Chris. I moved this topic to it's own thread. Maybe downspouts are protected by the Bill of Rights or something, but how does the village enforce ANY inspection issues before property transfer? Why are downspouts exempt, or is Home Rule needed to enforce ANY code violation?

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