Divided stormwater taskforce approves draft

By Jack King: CNJ Staff Writer

“Philosophical differences” over who should bear the cost of stormwater management systems divided members of a taskforce developing a city ordinance on stormwater management in residential subdivisions Tuesday.

Despite their differences, members of the taskforce approved a draft ordinance, which will be considered today by the city’s public works committee. If approved there, it will be forwarded to the city commission sometime in July.

Developers at the meeting objected to some parts of the ordinance’s first draft, which was provided by city Public Works Director Harry Wang.

They said a paragraph allowing stormwater management changes to be required at the lot level in some subdivisions would outrage buyers who had already purchased lots. They also objected to maintaining retention/detention areas in subdivisions for an extended period, saying that is the city’s job.

City Attorney Dave Richards said assigning the maintenance was a “philosophical area,” raising questions about who should pay for it. If the developer pays, it drives up the cost of the lots; if the city pays, it must raise taxes or require impact fees, he said.

But, developer Bobby Newman said he resented the city requiring him to donate land for a run-off site, then maintain it at his own expense for 10 years.

“There are certain things that are the city’s responsibility — police, fire, utilities, water. Stormwater management is one of those things,” he said.

The changes in the draft the group approved Tuesday include:

n language in the draft referring to “lots” was deleted, so that the ordinance applies only to residential subdivisions.
n A section read, “Existing residential lots on the effective date of this ordinance shall not be required to comply with on-site storm water management requirements, unless fewer than fifty percent (50%) of the total lots in the subdivision, or unit of the subdivision, have residences constructed on them.”

It was changed to read, “Existing residential lots, subdivisions and units of subdivisions on the effective date of this ordinance shall not be required to comply with storm water management requirements unless no infrastructure improvements have been installed in the subdivision.”

n The minimum storm water management requirement was changed from water produced in one hour during a 25-year-frequency storm to that produced in one hour in a 10-year- frequency storm.

n A subsection requiring stormwater retention/detention areas in subdivisions to be maintained by the developer or the developer’s successors in interest for a minimum of 10 years, or until a specific percentage of the lots have been sold, was changed to state the areas would be maintained by the developer for one year after its construction, then turned over to the city. Any necessary repairs to it will be completed prior to acceptance by the city.

City commissioners approved a stormwater management ordinance for commercial buildings Jan. 22, but delayed considering an ordinance on residential subdivisions. The public works committee formed the stormwater management taskforce on March 24.