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Boone County unveils new rules to control stormwater runoff

Wednesday, August 19, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 12:29 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, August 19, 2009

COLUMBIA – A draft of new rules for Boone County designed to reduce stormwater runoff and control pollution – the product of scores of meetings that spanned more than six years – is ready for public comment.

The proposed ordinance would bring the county into compliance with federal requirements that took effect in 2002 by establishing stormwater rules for new developments both during and after construction.

If you go

The Boone County Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a series of three public hearings on the proposed stormwater ordinance. Here’s the schedule:

Aug. 20: A public hearing will be held at the end of the planning commission’s regular meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. in the county commission chambers at the Roger B. Wilson Boone County Government Center on Eighth and Walnut streets.

Sept. 14: 7 p.m. at 1023 E. Highway 22 in Centralia.

Sept. 21: 7 p.m. at Ashland City Hall, 109 E. Broadway, Ashland.

To read the full text of the ordinance and to learn more about it, go to www.showmeboone.com



Boone County Southern District Commissioner Karen Miller, who has taken the lead on stormwater issues over the past several years, said during a news conference Tuesday that the proposal reflects a “minimalist approach.”

The draft ordinance will be the subject of a series of public hearings hosted by the Boone County Planning and Zoning Commission. The first of those will be held Thursday night. Subsequent hearings will be held Sept. 14 in Centralia and Sept. 21 in Ashland. After the hearings, the planning commission will either reject the ordinance or recommend the Boone County Commission pass it.

“I hope people will come out to learn more about the issues and take the time to look at it from the perspectives of the different groups that will be affected,” county stormwater coordinator Georganne Bowman said.

Bowman said the 40-page ordinance is designed to be flexible, giving developers several alternatives for meeting requirements that aim to protect streams from erosion, flooding and pollution after rainfall.

Agricultural and forestry projects would be exempt along with projects within incorporated areas of the county such as Hallsville, Centralia and Ashland. The city of Columbia has its own stormwater rules.

The county ordinance would apply to developments involving the disturbance of an acre or more. In areas near wetlands or with karst features such as sinkholes and caves, developers who plan to disturb more than 3,000 square feet would need to comply. The ordinance also establishes setback and buffer requirements intended to keep developments away from such sensitive areas.

Boone County Planning and Building Director Stan Shawver said the ordinance probably would not affect development patterns, given that most new development happens near existing infrastructure.

“Will there be an effect on development costs?” Shawver said. “Unfortunately, yes.”

Although the technical aspects of the ordinance are complex, its primary provisions are straightforward. Developers subject to the ordinance would be required to hold pre-planning meetings with county engineers and submit detailed plans for controlling runoff and pollution. They also would be required to post security bonds equal to 150 percent of the value of the stormwater detention and retention facilities they plan to create. That money would be returned once the development is complete and drainage structures and soil are stabilized.

Bowman said the ordinance is designed to promote a “nested approach” to stormwater management, encouraging the reduction of runoff, the treatment of “first flush” runoff that typically contains more pollution, the protection of stream channels and the control of flooding by rerouting high volumes of runoff during major storms to minimize damage downstream.

Although county officials acknowledge the ordinance would result in costs for designing and installing swales, detention basins and other features, they also say the retention of natural features and the decreased costs of flood insurance in the long run will result in higher property values. The ordinance would make property owners responsible for maintaining stormwater-control facilities, and it would authorize county inspectors to monitor compliance both during and after construction.

Don Stamper, Executive Director of the Central Missouri Development Council, took issue with some of the county’s conclusions.

While the County has suggested that developers could recover costs associated with compliance through — among other things — reducing street width, Stamper noted that using less surface might make developments costlier and could act to compound the problem of runoff.

“It doesn’t do any good to adopt a regulation unless it’s effective,” he said.

Stamper also questioned the wisdom of granting exemptions to agricultural projects.

He advocated adopting a case-by-case approach, noting that every development situation is different. While Stamper commended the county’s efforts, saying that “these steps are a move in the right direction,” he also indicated that the Development Council continues to have questions on the proposed ordinance. Stamper said the council has sought engineering and legal counsel and intends to present its findings to the county at one of three upcoming public hearings.

— Missourian reporter Ixa Faolan contributed to this report.


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