Wednesday, January 16, 2008

North Carolina Coastal Stormwater Rules

The Environmental Management Commission will be meeting next Thursday, Jan. 10th in Raleigh. On the Agenda is a request to adopt the Hearing Officer’s recommendations to amend the state’s coastal stormwater rules. The rules have been revised slightly based on public input and comments from public hearings held late last year. The revised proposed rules can be found at http://h2o.enr.state.nc.us/su/documents/CoastalRules-15ANCAC02H.1005withFinalHORec.doc .
Although there was local public outcry in opposition to the rules, from government entities to private citizens, the revised rules appear to be somewhat more restrictive when it comes to stormwater controls.
Revisions include:
o A positive change to the threshold for permitting under the rules for residential development: instead of 10,000 sq. ft., the revised rules include a threshold of one acre. An issue with the proposed rules as initially presented was that 10,000 sq. ft of land disturbance requiring a stormwater permit would trigger the need for a major CAMA permit. All non-residential development activities within the 20 coastal counties that disturb more than 10,000 sq. ft. will require a stormwater management permit.
o Under both low and high density options, the new rules still include a 50 ft. wide vegetative buffer for new development and now a 30 ft. wide vegetative buffer for redevelopment activities. Perhaps the 30 ft. buffer for redevelopment is a compromise on vested rights.
o For any residential development activities of 10,000 sq. ft. or more in the 20 coastal counties, whether within ½ mile of SA waters or not, and whether or not requiring a stormwater management permit - a rain cistern or rain barrels will be required to collect all rooftop runoff from the one-year 24-hour storm. Rain gardens can also be used to collect rooftop runoff as well as the installation of any other best management practice. Also, all uncovered areas to be paved must be constructed out of permeable pavement or other pervious materials. This is an addition to the proposed rules that were presented for public hearing and basically states that all residential rooftop runoff, on any land in the 20 coastal counties, will have to be maintained on site, by the means listed, without the technicality of triggering a major CAMA permit.
o Wetlands are still not included in impervious surface calculations but are more clearly defined as 404 jurisdictional or non-404 jurisdictional wetlands.

According to the NC Home Builders Association, since the rules differ substantially from the version of the coastal stormwater rules that were published in the NC Register on August 14, 2007, the EMC may NOT ADOPT THE SUBSTANTIALLY DIFFERENT RULES UNTIL THE NEW TEXT IS PUBLISHED IN THE NC REGISTER AND PUBLIC COMMENT IS ACCEPTED!
Specifically, Chapter 150B-21.2(g) reads: An agency shall not adopt a rule that differs substantially from the text of a proposed rule published in the North Carolina Register unless the agency publishes the text of the proposed different rule in the North Carolina Register and accepts comments on the proposed different rule for the time set in subsection (f) of this section.

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