Friday, September 28, 2007

Oppose Proposed Coastal Stormwater Rules!

DENR/DWQ will be receiving public comments until October 15th on proposed amendments to Coastal Stormwater Rules that would affect all land in twenty coastal counties. Although they are similar to Phase II stormwater rules that New Hanover, Brunswick and Onslow Counties were mandated to follow as of July 1, 2007, they are actually more restrictive and will have tremendous impact on any development or redevelopment activities. The proposed rules include:

Lowering the threshold for permitting under these rules from 1 acre of land disturbance to 10,000 square feet of land disturbance.
§ Extending the existing 30-foot vegetative setback to 50 feet.

Reducing the low density threshold within ½ mile of shellfishing (SA) waters from 25% to 12% impervious surface density (built upon area). Any project over 12% lot coverage (high density) will need a structurally engineered stormwater system on site that will control and treat stormwater runoff based on the one-year 24-hour storm calculations. The current rule requires stormwater control for the first 1.5 inches of rainfall.
Reducing the low density threshold for development activities beyond ½ mile SA waters from 30% to 24%. Development projects over 24% lot coverage will be required to install structurally engineered stormwater systems as described above.
Prohibiting the use of all wetlands impervious surface calculations for projects covered under these rules.

Coastal water quality is important to all of us!

However, these rules should be opposed for the following reasons:

§ There has been no cost-benefit analysis performed or an environmental impact study done to estimate the actual benefit of these rules.

§ Vested rights are not addressed in the proposed rules but were included in Phase II rules.

§ The 10,000 square feet threshold will greatly increase the number of permit applications while placing an undue burden on many single-family homes and other small projects with additional engineering costs.

§ The 12% impervious surface threshold will result in eliminating much of the affordable housing in the coastal counties while increasing the cost of building schools and municipal building schools – a cost that will ultimately by paid for by taxpayers.

§ Eliminating wetlands from impervious surface calculations will limit the usefulness of a parcel of land and is an unjust taking when property owners will still be required to pay taxes on the wetlands.

§ The proposed rules do not address existing conditions such as the lack of maintenance of swales and ditches and ocean outfalls from street stormwater runoff.

§ NC DOT would be exempt from the rules and they are possibly the owner of the largest amount of impervious surface in the state.

§ The “one size fits all” approach for all twenty coastal counties is impractical, especially when Dare County has approximately 80% of land that is State or Federal protected property.

§ These rules seem to be more “rules on top of rules” with no scientific evidence or guarantee that they will improve the quality of shellfishing waters.

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