COLUMBIA — Citizens and developers alike made their voices heard on Boone County's proposed storm-water ordinance at a public hearing Thursday night. They drew attention to problem areas in the proposal but also praised the county for its long and difficult efforts in addressing this issue.
The ordinance is part of the county’s efforts to comply with Environmental Protection Agency requirements that went into effect in 2002. It contains heightened obligations for controlling runoff, erosion and pollution during new development and redevelopment projects. It also requires that developers protect downstream properties and area water bodies, such as creeks and streams, from flooding and contamination because of storms and other excess water flow.
To read the full text of the proposed ordinance, go to the County's Stormwater Program's Web site.
If you go:
Public hearing schedule:
- 7 p.m., Sept. 14, County Office, 1023 E. Highway 22, Centralia
- 7 p.m., Sept. 21, Ashland City Hall, 109 E. Broadway
The new rules aim to protect wetlands, sinkholes, streams and caves from the effects of storm-water runoff. The ordinance also gives the county the authority to enforce federal and state regulations that make it illegal to allow construction site sediment or other contaminants to drain into streams. In addition, homeowners in new developments will be responsible for appropriate maintenance of water regulation features on their property.
County officials have said that when they drafted the ordinance they tried to build in flexibility that allows developers to be creative in deciding how to control storm-water. The ordinance encourages developers to consider strategies such as detention ponds, swales, pervious pavement, narrow street widths, landscaping and rain gardens.
Developers will be required to submit plans indicating satisfactory compliance in both construction and long-term maintenance of storm-water infrastructure. Permits will be required for both storm-water discharge and land disturbance.
The ordinance also mandates ongoing inspections and possible penalties for violations.
Patrick Devaney, project engineer with A Civil Group, an engineering firm in Columbia, called it a "well-thought out and thorough ordinance" but called for clarification in areas of ambiguity and potential misinterpretation. Devaney also questioned the practicality of carrying out some of the measurements that would determine whether developers are in compliance with the ordinance. He suggested a revision of that policy.
A clause requiring permit holders to wait until the dissolution of the permit for the return of a cash deposit to secure all necessary soil control measures drew the dissatisfaction of both Devaney and Don Stamper, executive director of the Central Missouri Development Council. Permit dissolution could take years and could cause developers to be responsible for land they no longer own, Stamper said.
Stamper, who praised the county on its completion of what he called "an onerous and difficult task," also voiced concern about the cost of implementation of the proposed ordinance. "How will it effect the cost of living in Boone County?" he asked. "We don't want to create a situation where we make it harder for people to buy homes."
Ben Londeree of the Boone County Smart Growth Coalition said the proposal "addresses sensitive areas very well," but "when it comes to reducing the volume of water, it falls way short." He said that flooding is already a problem in downstream areas and that channel protection and erosion of stream banks would likely be a problem under the proposed ordinance.
Alyce Turner, a Columbia resident, approved of the ordinance, saying that water quality and flooding are important issues for the American public.
Public hearings also are planned for Sept. 14 in Centralia and Sept. 21 in Ashland.