Simplified: The City of Sioux Falls is teaming up with Habitat for Humanity on a pilot project to see if low-impact development – development with a focus on a more sustainable, environmental approach to water management – could work on a broader scale.

Why it matters

  • The northeast Sioux Falls housing development will bring not only low-impact, but also affordable housing with 13 twin homes on a 4.5-acre parcel on East 34th Street North just west of Interstate 229, according to Rocky Welker, executive director of Habitat for Humanity Greater Sioux Falls.
  • The housing project comes when the city is in the midst of developing a sustainability master plan, and Mayor Paul TenHaken touted this project in his budget address last week as one example of how the city is working toward more sustainable practices.
  • It also gives the city an opportunity to pilot low-impact development and test its effectiveness at reducing site runoff and pollutants.
"If it's successful, we would add some of these aspects of low-impact development into our design standards," said Andy Berg, environmental and stormwater manager for the city.

What does low-impact development mean?

The idea of low-impact housing is treating water as a resource, not as something to funnel out of neighborhoods through curbs and gutters, Berg said.

  • By giving water a place to be reabsorbed and filtered through soil and perforated pipes underground, the goal is to rely on nature to filter runoff instead everything traveling through city infrastructure.

That means the pilot neighborhood won't have curbs and gutters commonly found in other residential areas.

What happens next?

Construction on the first four units (two twin-homes) is expected to start next week, Welker said.

Habitat for Humanity hopes to have 20 of the 26 total planned units built within three and a half years, he added, and they're looking for more home sponsors to help fund construction.

On the city side, they'll continue to monitor the low-impact development and see if it's something to add to the city's design standards, Berg said.

"My guess would be within the next one or two years," he added, "I could see us starting to allow it on a more regular basis."