Category Archives: Blog

Conference Call: Mark Smolinski

Mark Smolinski
Principal
G2 Consulting Group

As long as the clients are pleased and the revenues and profits are good, we don’t watch the clock of our staff,” Smolinski says.

Read the conversation between G2 Consulting Group Principal Mark Smolinski and Liisa Andreassen, correspondent for The Zweig Letter. G2 Consulting was a listed as a Hot Firm (#67) by Zweig Group in 2016.

CONFERENCE CALL: MARK SMOLINSKI

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Superpave Gyratory Compactor expands Hot Mix Asphalt testing capabilities

G2 Project Manager James Berry

James Berry, P.E. Project Manager

G2 Consulting Group is expanding its Hot-Mix-Asphalt (HMA) testing capabilities at its Troy laboratory with the addition of a new Superpave Gyratory Compactor (SGC).  The new machine is a Model AFG2 manufactured by Pine Test Equipment, Inc. The SGC will allow G2 Consulting to test and determine the volumetric properties of the newer Superpave HMA mixtures (MDOT E series mixes) that are being used more and more by our local and regional agency clients.

What is Superpave?

Superpave stands for Superior Performing Asphalt Pavements. It is a mixed-design method that makes the best use of asphalt paving technology and enhances asphalt pavements’ ability to balance the high-temperature rutting and low-temperature cracking characteristics of asphalt concrete. Superpave replaces the Hveem and Marshall methods.

Why is it important?

Harvey Hurwitz, Senior Engineering Technician demonstrates compaction sampling.

Determining volumetric properties of compacted HMA samples is an important component of mix design development and project quality control and quality assurance testing. With the older Marshall designed mixes, this was relatively easy with simple mechanical compaction equipment. Superpave mixes require the much more sophisticated SGC to compact the laboratory samples for testing. The SGC allows us to produce samples in our laboratory representing a variety of different projected traffic loadings using compaction methods that more closely simulate mix compaction under repeated vehicle wheel passes rather than compaction with a smooth drum roller. Many regional agencies are requiring volumetric properties tests as part of standard QA/QC testing, and it is anticipated that MDOT Local Agency Projects will require QA volumetric testing for Marshall and Superpave HMA mixtures in the near future.

Superpave Gyratory Compactor

G2’s new Superpave Gyratory Compactor will be used to test newer Superpave Hot Mix Asphalt mixtures.

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ACEC/MI offers 2018 Michigan Educational Scholarships

Mark Smolinski Principal G2 Consulting Group

Mark Smolinski
Principal
G2 Consulting Group

The American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) of Michigan Education Scholarship Application is now available for 2018.

ACEC of Michigan’s Scholarship Program was created to promote the profession and to provide financial support to those individuals pursuing careers in engineering and surveying. Multiple scholarships are awarded each year in varying amounts. Last year, five university students received assistance.

To qualify, college students must have completed their freshman year and enrolled in an ABET accredited engineering or surveying program. Recipients of the awards will be evaluated in the following areas: Work experience, extra-curricular and community activities, references, grade point average, and a written essay. Applicants must have worked for a private engineering, architectural or surveying firm in the past 24 months.

“G2 Consulting Group is a proud member of ACEC of Michigan,” says Mark Smolinski, principal at G2. “Our chapter will award three to five scholarships to deserving students this year totaling approximately $12,000.”

The scholarship entry deadline is Friday, January 5, 2018. Please click on the link below for the ACEC of Michigan 2018 Education Scholarship Application.

ACEC of Michigan 2018 Educational Scholarship Application

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G2 Consulting Group Seeks Qualified Field Technicians

Bruce J. Wilberding, P.E. Principal/Project Consultant

Bruce J. Wilberding, P.E.
Principal/Project Consultant

G2 Consulting Group is currently look for qualified candidates to fill Field Technician positions in its Troy and Ann Arbor offices. G2 clients rely on the firm’s responsive attitude and ability to quickly mobilize an experienced team of professionals. G2 clients include Fortune 500 companies, major utilities, state and local government agencies, and leading architectural, engineering, and construction firms.

Principal duties consist of construction observation and testing, and laboratory testing within the construction engineering services group. Testing duties include earthwork, foundation, concrete, steel, masonry, and paving related activities at job sites. Travel outside of the Detroit metropolitan area may be required. G2 will make efforts to provide a company vehicle available from its current fleet. However, use of a personal vehicle may be required to perform the duties of this position, particularly during training. The candidate should expect to work overtime and occasional weekend days.

Candidates that have Level 1 Concrete Field Testing Technician Certification, Density Control Certification, or Hot Mix Asphalt Level 1 Certification are desired.  Ideal candidates should have good writing and communication skills, and are detail-oriented. In addition, candidates should have an excellent driving record, the ability to work outside in various weather conditions, and the ability to lift 50 pounds and stand for long periods of time.

G2 Consulting Group offers full-time employees a comprehensive range of employee benefits including: health insurance, dental coverage, 401(k), comp time, paid holidays, and tuition reimbursement. Typical hourly rate range for field technicians is $15 to $20, depending on experience and possession of above mentioned certifications.

If you are interested in applying for the position of field technician, please contact Bruce Wilberding at (248) 680-0400, Jason Stoops at (734) 390-9330, or visit the G2 website at www.g2consultinggroup.com.

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Magna Seating HQ – “In The Driver’s Seat”

Jason Stoops, P.E Ann Arbor Office Manager

Jason Stoops, P.E
G2 Project Manager

Congratulations to Magna Seating of America, Inc. and Cunningham-Limp on the recent opening of Magna’s new headquarters in Novi, MI.

G2 Consulting Group was proud to perform the geotechnical investigation and provide special inspections/materials testing for the new $48 million, 180,000 square foot, three-story facility which will consolidate activities into a single facility to house engineering, research and development, and sales and marketing teams.

As with all Cunningham-Limp projects, I was impressed with the speed and short turn around time to deliver the new headquarters. Cunningham-Limp’s design build services and collaborative approach allows their design subconsultants to work seamlessly with them during the construction process to deliver an outstanding project.

The video below shows the construction process from dirt to delivery.

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Civil crew unearths archaeological remains at cell tower site

Ben Youra Project Manager G2 Chicagoland

Ben Youra
Project Manager
G2 Chicagoland

As reported this month in wirelessestimator.com, a civil crew unearthed what was determined to be human remains while excavating at an existing cell tower site. It is believed the remains were part of an unmarked portion of an adjacent historic cemetery. According to the post, the tower is not registered in the FCC’s database.

http://wirelessestimator.com/articles/2016/civil-workers-unearth-a-skull-and-other-bones-at-s-c-cell-site/

While findings like this are extremely rare, this occurrence highlights the need to perform proper due diligence work on proposed tower sites during the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Review process.  In 2015, G2 Consulting oversaw a project associated with a proposed tower site near Lexington, KY. During the NEPA-related work, over 35 pre-historic and historic artifacts were discovered during a Phase I archaeological survey.  The contracted archaeologist determined an enhanced scope of work to ascertain if any intact archaeological resources were present in the project site.

G2 facilitated coordination for concurrence on the enhanced scope of work seeking input from the Kentucky Heritage Council (SHPO), the FCC’s Federal Preservation Officer, and the consulting tribal entities for that area.

G2 worked with the various entities to agree on an approach in a timely manner. The Enhanced Phase I Archaeological Investigation determined that historical agricultural activities within the parcel had resulted in previous disturbance. It was determined that the project should proceed as development of the proposed communications tower would not result in disturbance of any intact historical resources.

G2 was able to utilize its experience to convey fieldwork findings to State, Federal, and Tribal entities and ultimately get clearance for the project with relatively minimal project delays.

G2 advises its clients in every NEPA Report, that should archaeological materials or human remains be encountered prior to or during construction of their telecommunications facilities, construction activities should cease and the SHPO, the Native American tribal entities, and other consulting parties must be contacted for further evaluation.

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ACEC of Michigan Scholarships available for 2017

Mark Smolinski Principal G2 Consulting Group

Mark Smolinski
Principal
G2 Consulting Group

The American Council of Engineering Companies announced its annual scholarship program this month. The 2017 application is now available.

ACEC of Michigan’s Scholarship Program was created to promote the profession and to provide financial support to those individuals pursuing careers in engineering and surveying. The Council awards scholarships to deserving college students who have completed their freshman year and are enrolled in an ABET accredited engineering or surveying program. Recipients of the awards will be evaluated in the following areas: Work experience, extra-curricular and community activities, references, grade point average, and a written essay. Applicants must have worked for a private engineering, architectural or surveying firm in the past 24 months.

“G2 Consulting Group is a proud member of ACEC of Michigan,” says Mark Smolinski, principal at G2. “Our chapter awards approximately $12,000 annually to well-qualified students.”

The scholarship entry deadline is Friday, January 6. Please click on the link below for the ACEC Michigan 2017 Scholarship application. If you have any questions, please call the ACEC/Michigan office at 517-332-2066.

http://www.g2consultinggroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/2017_acecm_scholarships.pdf

 

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Telecom Carriers Expand Coverage with DAS • G2 Provides Environmental Due Diligence

Ben Youra Project Manager G2 Chicagoland

Ben Youra
Project Manager
G2 Chicagoland

In the last few years, wireless data traffic has increased exponentially. People are no longer only accessing the Internet at home or in the office, they are doing it wherever they are from their mobile device. Telecommunication carriers have come up with innovative ways to increase their network capacity. One solution is through the use of small cells. Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) are another solution used to address the need for increased coverage and capacity of wireless networks.

DAS are typically associated with large facilities and venues that may have known peak usage (i.e., a sporting event or concert) as the systems are designed to address the potential for interference from building materials of the structure itself, as well as, simultaneous data usage from a large number of people in a concentrated area.  Thus DAS is a benefit to both the wireless carriers using the system, as well as, the venue owners in providing better service to smartphone users at these locations.
In 2016, G2 has provided environmental due diligence services in the form of Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESA), Phase II ESAs, and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Reviews to its telecommunication clients proposing to install DAS at two venues in the greater Chicagoland area.
Our Phase I ESA for one of the projects found the site was utilized for heavy industrial purposes dating back to the 1950’s prior to the redevelopment of the parcel as a sporting venue in the early 2000’s. At least 16 underground storage tanks with two documented leaking incidents were associated with the historical industrial site within the overall property.  However, given the limited nature of the client’s proposed work below grade, we were able to tailor our scope of work for soil testing associated with the Phase II ESA to address only the areas to be impacted by the proposed telecommunications site development and to address the necessary parameters to satisfy the Illinois EPA’s Clean Construction and Demolition Debris requirements. The soil testing results were favorable and our client was able to proceed toward development of the site with no delays or extra costs incurred.
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Country Club of Detroit’s renovation focuses on fitness

Project Manager Mark Stapleton designed the innovative approach to the Country Club of Detroit's historic renovation.

Project Manager Mark Stapleton designed the innovative approach to the Country Club of Detroit’s historic renovation.

Detroit — G2 Consulting Group provided geotechnical engineering services for the historic Country Club of Detroit renovation project. The club required that the footprint or historical architecture of its existing clubhouse not be altered. The $9 million renovations include a new fitness center and bowling lanes at the bottom level of the building that required the replacement of an emptied indoor swimming pool that had been closed since the early 1930s.

READ MORE ABOUT THE COUNTRY CLUB OF DETROIT RENOVATIONS

G2 Consulting Group provided geotechnical services and found innovative and cost-effective solutions for this historic site’s renovations.

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Small Cell Sector Opportunities Increase in Telecom Market

Ben Youra Project Manager G2 Chicagoland

Ben Youra
Project Manager
G2 Chicagoland

G2 Consulting Group – Chicagoland has provided its telecommunication clients regulatory compliance services for over 15 years. Over the past several years, G2 Consulting has seen increased opportunities in the small cell sector of the telecommunications market as carriers attempt to keep up with the need for increased network capacity brought on by consumers’ ever-increasing demand for data on their mobile devices.

This is a dynamic area of the telecommunications business given that the deployment of small cell networks is a relatively recent development and we do anticipate carriers devoting more of their resources to expanding their small cell networks going forward. Further, the regulatory framework (National Environmental Policy Act) in place for years to address new cell tower development must also be applied to the small cells and it isn’t always a perfect fit. To that end, we have seen the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) working to streamline the regulatory process to fit the generally lower-impact of small cells with respect to NEPA concerns. G2 is currently working with our clients and awaiting interpretations from the carrier’s legal and regulatory departments to address the most recent attempts to streamline the regulatory process offered for small cell facilities as put forth by the FCC in August.

READ:   Wireless Telecommunications Bureau  Announces Execution of First Amendment to the Nationwide Programmatic Agreement for the Collocation of Wireless Antennas

G2 always stays in front of new developments in the small cell sector. To that end, we are looking forward to attending the upcoming Above Ground Level conference in Chicago on October 4th.  We hope to hear thoughts from the speakers as to where this sector is headed, as well as, their perceptions with respect to the recent regulatory changes and how the industry may incorporate these changes. G2 is always interested in bringing back information we can provide to our clients so they can make well-informed decisions on their projects.

READ: Above Ground Media Group Conference – Chicago IL

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G2 “Maps It Out” For Tower Owners/Carriers

Tony Poisson, Office Manager - Chicagoland

Tony Poisson, Office Manager – Chicagoland

As available tower space becomes more limited, it becomes imperative to tower owners and carriers to make the most of the existing space that is available. Oftentimes, this involves performing a structural analysis of the tower to determine its load carrying capacity and ability to support additional antenna structures. The existing foundation must be evaluated as part of this structural analysis.

What happens when the original foundation plans, geotechnical report, or as-built plans are not available? At this point it becomes necessary to perform an investigation to determine the subsurface conditions at the site and foundation type and dimensions. G2 has performed hundreds of such investigations across the United States for numerous clients including Semaan Engineering, Fullerton Engineering, Terra Consulting Group, W-T Communication Group, and all the major telecommunication tower owners and carriers.

G2 has the ability and network of drillers across the country to perform geotechnical investigations almost anywhere. Typically, our foundation investigations utilize low-strain pile integrity test methods to evaluate drilled piers. We also utilize excavation methods, as necessary, to determine foundation information. Our past investigations have also included evaluation of guyed anchor bars for corrosion below grade.

We also maintain a database of the thousands of tower sites we have worked on over the past 20 years and may be able to locate previous geotechnical reports or foundation designs, potentially saving a substantial amount of time and money required for new investigations.

READ:  Analysis of Existing Tower Foundations

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Big-bore Harley dealer aims to be a destination

Farmington Hills — Harley-Davidson motorcycles is perhaps the ultimate lifestyle brand, and one of the nation’s largest Harley dealerships aims to be a lifestyle destination with a brewpub and restaurant just off the showroom floor.

READ MORE ABOUT MOTOR CITY HARLEY-DAVIDSON

G2 Consulting Group provided geotechnical services, as well as, special inspections and materials testing. The project was completed in record time!

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Is the firm you are using AMRL accredited? We are.

Staff Engineer

Michael Dagher Staff Engineer

Is your consultant providing you with accurate data? Are they providing you with testing that verifies the end product adheres to project plans and specifications? At G2 Consulting Group, we have been site assisting with construction projects for over two decades and providing further testing in our in-house AASHTO Materials Reference Laboratory (AMRL) accredited laboratory.

AMRL accreditation helps G2 Consulting to continually improve the quality of our services through rigorous review of testing procedures, field and laboratory equipment, and our quality system management practices.  Achieving and maintaining AMRL accreditation underscores G2’s commitment to the highest standard of field and laboratory testing.

G2 believes that a fundamental principle in delivering Smart, Results, Fast, is to employ state-of-the-art laboratory, field, and quality control procedures.  By implementing AMRL accredited field and laboratory test procedures and quality management systems, G2 reinforces its obligation to clients to deliver superior quality and technical accuracy for every project.

G2 is proud to offer AMRL accredited field and laboratory testing services. For a partial list of test methods, click here: G2 Consulting Group’s AMRL Accredited Services

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G2 Chicagoland Recommends CCDD Services

Ben Youra Project Manager G2 Chicagoland

Ben Youra
Project Manager
G2 Chicagoland

Efficient Process Saves Time and Reduces Costs

Addressing soil characterization during the Geotechnical Investigation phase saves our clients time and money by certifying the soils during the early stages of the planning process. G2 recommends Clean Construction and Demolition Debris (CCDD) services to minimize additional expenses. CCDD is defined by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as ”uncontaminated broken concrete without protruding metal bars, bricks, rock, stone, reclaimed asphalt, and soil generated from construction and demolition activities.”

Disposal of soils that cannot be utilized on site during grading is significantly less expensive at a clean fill facility. Analyzing soil and having certification forms in place early in the project stage helps remove potential delays and unplanned costs. Once site development begins, potential costs arise from stockpiling soils on site while waiting for lab results. These soils may then need to be disposed of at a regulated landfill.  Further, owners can utilize this information to obtain favorable pricing from contractors when their projects bid.

G2 Consulting Group reviews available environmental reports, as well as readily available information within the Illinois EPA’s databases to determine if there are significant environmental issues associated with the subject property or immediate adjoining properties.  Based on our review, we determine an appropriate number of soil samples and locations, as well as a scope for analytical testing parameters.

Soil samples are obtained during drilling operations performed in conjunction with our Geotechnical Investigation using proper environmental sampling protocol. Soil at the project site is visually assessed and screened in the field using a photo ionization detector (PID). Soil samples are selected for analytical testing based on visual observations, PID screenings, or using other pertinent data from our review.  Representative samples are selected and submitted to an accredited laboratory for analysis and comparison with the Illinois EPA’s “Maximum Allowable Concentrations of Chemical Constituents in Uncontaminated Soil Used as Fill Material”.  This analysis is used to determine if soils at the site meet the Illinois EPA’s criteria for disposal at a CCDD facility. Provided the material is determined to be non-impacted, a licensed Professional Engineer completes the Illinois EPA Form LPC-663 certifying that the soils are non-impacted.  It should be noted that final acceptance of the material is up to the individual landfill facility.

Smart. Results. Fast.

G2 Consulting Group’s Chicagoland office performs soil testing in conjunction with Geotechnical Investigations saving time and reducing costs.

 

 

 

 

 

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G2 Consulting Group is a 2016 “Hot Firm” Says Zweig Group

HotFirm_2016

For the second year in a row, G2 Consulting Group, a leader in geotechnical, environmental and construction engineering services, was named one of the top 100 “Hot Firms” out of a national industry of 100,000 companies in the A/E/P (Architecture/Engineering/Planning) and environmental consulting industry. The recognition is based on percentage and actual dollar of revenue growth over a three-year period and is made by Zweig Group, the leading research, publishing and consulting resource for AEP and environmental consulting firms.

G2 Consulting experienced business growth of 20%, 50% and 21% respectively for the years 2013-2015. During that period, the company’s employment grew from 30 to 76 at its three locations in Troy, Ann Arbor, and Chicago.

Over the past several years the company has completed a variety of major projects in its home state of Michigan as well as 30+ other states. Recent projects include complex work on earth retention systems for Detroit’s new $650 million Red Wings arena district.

“We’re thrilled to be named to the Zweig Group Hot Firm Top 100 list,” said Mark Smolinski, principal of G2 Consulting Group. “To be in the top 100 for a second consecutive year is an incredible accomplishment for our team.”

This year’s conference will be held on September 22-23 at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix, Arizona. The event will feature speakers and education sessions as well as a black tie awards banquet that will celebrate the most successful firms in the A/E/P industry.

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What do I need to know before I buy or lease that property?

Patrick T. Bell G2 Consulting Group Project Manager

Patrick T. Bell
G2 Consulting Group
Project Manager

“Buying or leasing a property is a significant commitment of money and time, says Patrick T. Bell, project manager at G2 Consulting Group. “One of the more stressful aspects of purchasing, owning or leasing property is what kind of investment is required to maintain the value and functionality of the property.”  G2 helps our clients determine its needs with a Property Conditions Assessment.

At G2 Consulting Group, we understand how real property conditions impact the business of our clients. Ownership of commercial property requires a continually evolving plan with regard to maintenance, repairs, and long-term capital planning. G2 offers Property Condition Assessments (PCAs) as part of due diligence for clients that may be purchasing, leasing, or simply maintaining a property. PCAs provide valuable information to help owners or potential owners understand what investment is required to maintain the value of a property.

G2’s project professionals follow ASTM E2018 guidelines, the recognized standard of major lenders. PCAs completed under ASTM standards provide estimates of probable costs for changes or repairs that require immediate attention. The PCA also provides opinions concerning probable costs to remedy physical deficiencies that need to be made in the near future, usually within the first year or two.

G2’s four-step PCA process includes:

  1. Walkthrough / Site Visit
  2. Interviews of key site personnel
  3. Document Review
  4. Analysis & Reporting

 

G2 Consulting Group will provide clients with a comprehensive Property Conditions Assessment Report that includes the following basic scope:

Site

  • Topography and Storm Water Drainage
  • Access and Egress
  • Paving, Curbing and Parking
  • Flatwork
  • Landscaping and Appurtenances
  • Ancillary Structures

Structural Frame and Building Envelope

  • Foundation
  • Building Frame
  • Façades or Curtain Wall
  • Roofing

Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing System

  • Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning
  • Electrical
  • Plumbing
  • Elevators and Escalators

Interior Elements

  • Common Areas
  • Tenant Spaces

Fire/Life Safety

  • Sprinklers and Standpipes
  • Alarm Systems

 

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G2 Consulting & Partners Provide 2016 Development Outlook for Southeast Michigan

“New development projects and plans for projects in the area are announced on an almost daily basis,” says Mark Smolinski, principal of G2 Consulting Group, a geotechnical engineering and construction services firm based in Troy. “But different from years past, after the announcements the projects are actually happening.”

CAM Magazine June 2016 pg 2

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FCC to Amend Collocation Agreement Enabling Swift Deployment of Broadband Services

Illinois

Ben Youra, Project Manager

The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB) issued a Public Notice on May 12, 2016 seeking comments related to their proposed “Amended Collocation Agreement”. The proposed Amended Collocation Agreement would offer additional exclusions from Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), given the limited potential for adverse impacts to historic resources from small cell and Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) facilities. The FCC’s goal in providing the additional exclusions to the existing Collocation Agreement is to “enable swift and responsible deployment of wireless broadband services.”

The Amended Collocation Agreement would address streamlining deployment of small cells by providing new exclusions related to the following scenarios:

  • The collocation of small cell facilities on buildings and non-tower structures over 45 years old not in historic districts
  • The collocation of minimally visible small cell facilities on buildings and non-tower structures within historic districts or on historic properties (subject to certain visibility limitations)
  • The collocation of visible small cell facilities within historic districts or on historic properties (on utility poles/transmission towers, for in-kind replacements of existing equipment, and on a case-by-case basis for public lighting structures)

The proposed new exclusions for small cell facilities are subject to limitations related to volumetric size limits of the antennas and associated equipment, as well as, limitations on associated ground disturbance, and safeguards on the physical preservation of historic materials. The comment period with the FCC for the proposed Amended Collocation Agreement expires on June 13, 2016 and issuance of the Amended Collocation Agreement is expected later this year.

Please contact G2 to discuss how we can assist in determining how the existing or proposed FCC guidelines may impact your small cell/DAS projects.  Our staff can help in the planning of your projects to apply exclusions where applicable to limit the overall regulatory requirements associated with your small cell projects. Given our experience with regulatory oversight by the carriers, we can help set cost parameters and timelines based on the services that will be required related to any Section 106 review involving SHPO and/or tribal entities.

Below is a link to the FCC’s Public Notice page, which contains a copy of the proposed Amended Collocation Agreement:

https://www.fcc.gov/document/programmatic-agreement-collocation-wireless-antennas

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Green infrastructure: the next chapter in water quality

Evan Pratt Washtenaw County Drain Commissioner

Evan Pratt
Washtenaw County Drain Commissioner

When water pollution control began in the 1970’s, the first target was industry – stopping discharges of chemicals into the waterways.  This was followed by addressing wastewater treatment, then mitigating the impacts of combined sewer overflow (CSO).  Most recently, pollution in stormwater has been targeted, with federal regulations for urbanized areas coming on line in the late 1990s.

People had realized that hard surface development led to flooding, and some of the first steps to regulate runoff also started in the 1970s.  First, management of stormwater addressed runoff rates, through means such as detention ponds, with the goal of maintaining pre-development conditions and preventing flooding.  This philosophy, however, often falls short.  Addressing only the runoff rate does not address total runoff volumes, which also can cause downstream damage.  Further, studies found that detention basins usually did not address runoff water quality.

As a result of the 40 years of work noted above, stormwater runoff from roads is now thought to be the biggest source of pollutants today.  While agriculture is in the news for phosphorous loads, roads bring us urban phosphorous from lawns along with over a dozen other common human toxins such as lead, cadmium, copper, iron, and nickel.  Research shows that if you can handle the first inch of rain running off of roadways, you can manage most of this pollutant load.  This philosophy is one of the key drivers behind Washtenaw County’s Stormwater Design Standards, which focus not only on controlling the rate of runoff, but also the quantity and quality of that runoff.

The goal of the program is to allow stormwater to soak into the ground to the extent possible.  This approach provides many benefits:

  • the developer often can reduce the land required for detention ponds and meet landscape requirements at the same time by using raingardens, bio-swales, and other green infrastructure
  • downstream streams experience less scouring, stream bank damage, and other water quality impacts,
  • cost savings result from the use of green infrastructure to handle stormwater instead of investing money in systems to convey or detain the runoff, and
  • natural environmental systems are used to the largest extent possible to do what they were created to do, such as routing rain into the groundwater table to cool it off and slow it down.

Data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) indicate that Michigan is experiencing heavier rains than in previously recorded times; rainfall totals and peak intensities are 10+% and 15+% respectively over the past 30 years, even greater over the past 55 years. More rain is falling because more falls when it rains, but the dry periods are longer too.  The use of green infrastructure such as rain gardens, bioswales, and infiltration beds help to absorb this additional rain with moderate investment.  Infiltration under roadways has also proven promising, especially where there is native sand or sand backfill for a utility.

To address these issues, the Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner started a robust public comment period in late 2013 prior to implementing the current Stormwater Design Standards in August of 2014 and will soon embark on a follow up opportunity to receive additional feedback on the program to help guide the future.   The Commission is bringing in a stakeholder group in the next couple of weeks to get input on modifications to what was adopted in 2014.  That has been a part of the overall plan all along – to implement based on a stakeholder group that included development consultants, developers, municipal consultants, and municipal officials, then to assume there would be a need for minor tweaks after a year or so of use.   The Commission is working with a user group from the applicant side and the municipal agency side, as the standards are adopted by most of the developing communities in Washtenaw County.

I have been very impressed by the reaction of the development community and the ability of the geotechnical engineering community to implement these design regulations.  Partnership from the geotechnical profession has been the critical foundation allowing  implementation to go as smoothly as possible – we couldn’t do this without firms like G2 offering value and turnkey consulting on infiltration feasibility.  Prudent developers have always performed soils investigations early in the project; now data from these inexpensive investigations deliver information to determine how the site can implement needed infiltration – a real benefit since sites are now required to provide 20 percent more detention if they do not infiltrate the first one inch.  At the end of the day, the sooner the owner knows about the soils on the site, the fewer surprises they will experience.  Most have learned to get soil samples before site purchase.

Other communities will be moving in this direction in the near future as well.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has provided guidance on requiring infiltration in the context of stream channel protection.  In turn the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) is requiring infiltration for all urbanized areas through their Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit program which is on a 5-year renewal cycle – Washtenaw was on year 2 of that cycle in 2014-15.  All urban counties and communities – including Kent, Macomb, Livingston, Calhoun, Oakland and Wayne – are already working on revisions to address this approach in their  permitting cycle.

In closing, I see the use of green infrastructure expanding in its role to reduce stormwater runoff.  In fact, we are very encouraged by research documenting the ability of vegetation to transform heavy clay into medium grade soils with absorptive abilities.  The County currently is providing technical support to over 300 rain gardens.  I am planning to take this program to the next step, working with developers to use green infrastructure in place of ponds (as long as it performs) to handle stormwater.  We are currently developing the science to back this approach.

Thoughts? Comments?  Questions?  Check our our website or shoot me an email.

 

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