2005-10-27 / Front Page

Planning mulls new ordinances for storm-water management

By Sam Bari

The Oct. 19 Planning Commission meeting focused on amending the storm-water management ordinances recently mandate by the state. The three ordinances address prohibition of illicit discharges, soil erosion and sediment control, and post construction storm-water control.

Town Solicitor A. Lauriston Parks said it would be easiest to deal with the ordinance concerning soil erosion and sediment control “because the state General Assembly several years ago adopted a model soil erosion and sediment control ordinance.”

“The General Assembly made it very clear that municipalities adopting the ordinance can’t deviate, modify, or change the wording in any way. Consequently, the ordinance must be adopted as is by next March to be in compliance with the storm-water management plan,” Parks concluded.

The commission unanimously voted to recommend the soil erosion and sediment control ordinance as dictated by the General Assembly to the Town Council.

The ordinance that was next addressed by the commission concerned the prohibition of illicit discharges. The primary revision made by the town solicitor since the last meeting was to eliminate the appeal provisions contained in the original document because there was no one to appeal to without an appeal board.

“The town can bring forth enforcement measures to force compliance,” said Parks, meaning that an appeal board was not necessary. Town Engineer Michael Gray noted sections added to the illicit Discharge ordinance sent down from the state Department of Environmental Management. He also mentioned that the major complaints concerning illicit discharges came from concerned citizens citing discharges from new construction sites — mainly discharges from the construction sites of new homes.

After further discussion and making amendments to clearly define the term “illicit discharge,” and the circumstances to which the term is applied, as well as defining other terms in the ordinance wording, the commission voted unanimously to accept the revised ordinance.

Parks saiud the town had the authority to enforce the ordinance within the guidelines of the statemandated model.

The town has the right to impose fines on offenders of the illicit discharge ordinance as much as $500 for each offense. Each day of non-compliance constitutes a new offense and an additional $500 can be charged, Parks said.

The storm-water management plan is a non-funded state mandate that has been issued to municipalities who are responsible for its enforcement. This means that the state has dictated the plan without providing funds or personnel to enforce the ordinances in the plan. The responsibility of enforcing the mandate falls on the municipalities that are subject to the ordinances. If they are not enforced, the municipalities will be held responsible and could be sued for noncompliance.

The post construction stormwater control ordinance was then discussed at length. Town Engineer Michael Gray noted that with the town solicitor, the ordinance was revised to provide for a storm management plan to be submitted for any property being developed that was one acre or larger in area.

This ruling and other wording in the ordinance caused the commissioners concern. After discussion on the disputed points, Kallfelz asked the town solicitor and engineer to rethink the wording of the ordinance, making sure to clearly define all the terminology. They will present their recommendations at the next meeting, in November.

Kallfelz chaired this meeting due to Chairman Gary Girard’s absence. Also in attendance were Commissioners Barry Holland, Betty Hubbard, Richard Ventrone, and Victor Callabretta.

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