ASHLAND — Rock Bridge Memorial State Park had a voice Monday night at Ashland City Hall.
Benjamin Moore, a senior environmental science major at MU, is a Columbia native and volunteer at the state park. He came to the last of three public hearings on a Boone County stormwater ordinance to show support for its potential environmental effects.
The ordinance is an effort by the county to comply with stormwater requirements that were mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2002. In an effort to prevent downstream erosion, the ordinance places stricter requirements on development and redevelopment projects to control runoff. The ordinance intends to protect caves, sinkholes, wetlands and streams, which are especially at risk of wearing down.
While speaking in front of the Boone County Planning and Zoning Commission, Moore noted the unique yet fragile biodiversity of caves in the area, specifically Devil's Icebox Cave, located in the state park, and Hunter's Cave in southern Boone County.
"We could keep what we have if the provisions are put into effect," Moore said.
The ordinance, however, could be costly for developers. The Missourian previously reported that developers will be required to submit plans indicating satisfactory compliance in both construction and long-term maintenance of stormwater infrastructure. Permits will be required for both stormwater discharge and land disturbance.
Don Stamper, executive director of the Central Missouri Development Council, raised concerns about a part of the ordinance that requires developers to post security bonds equal to 150 percent of the value of stormwater detention and retention facilities they intend to build. He said it is "taking it to the point where only large developers can develop" and that the bond issue should be investigated more closely.
Inspections and potential penalties for violation are also mandated by the ordinance. Stamper said a 24-hour time limit to fix violations quickly and in bad weather may actually compound the problems the ordinance is attempting to resolve.
"While well-intended, it could be unreasonable," Stamper said.
Agriculture and forestry activities are exempt from the ordinance, as are incorporated areas such as Hallsville, Ashland and Centralia. Columbia is not affected either, as it has its own stormwater regulations.
County stormwater coordinator Georganne Bowman said that public comment would be compiled and the ordinance would be clarified now that all three public hearings — in Columbia, Centralia and Ashland — are complete. The ordinance is scheduled to go in front of the Planning and Zoning Commission on Oct. 15 for recommendation. If recommended, it would then be sent to the Boone County Commission for consideration.
"This very well could be ratified by the first of January," Bowman said.