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WEST CHESTER _ Chester County commissioners are working with county municipalities to implement new changes required by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in stormwater management.
The Chester County Water Resources Authority has been working with local governments to draft a new municipal stormwater management model ordinance that is required for compliance with state regulations. Once the new ordinance and accompanying PA Act 167 plan are approved by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection, they must be adopted by the county commissioners, and then local municipalities will have to adopt the new ordinance regulations and implement the changes.
Through PA Act 167 and other statewide stormwater regulations, Pennsylvania is requiring statewide changes to reduce stormwater and pollutant runoff from future land development projects, and from new or expanded construction on residential, agricultural and commercial properties. The new measures are designed to improve stormwater runoff, flooding and water quality problems across the county and the state, and to help protect areas currently not impacted by stormwater runoff and its pollution.
The Water Resources Authority is working with municipalities in an effort to meet these new requirements with the most practical measures possible for all property owners.
“Chester County has been working with local municipalities on stormwater issues for years through our Water Resources Authority, our Conservation District and as part of our Landscapes2 program,” said Chester County Commissioner Chair Terence Farrell. “Some of the stormwater regulations being imposed by the State have been in place within our county for a number of years, but we now need to comply with all of the regulations.”
“Reducing the financial impact on businesses and residents that stormwater damage and flooding can cause, and improving the water quality of the county’s streams are key goals of our strategic plan, and these are also the primary purposes of this Act 167 Plan and model ordinance,” commented Commissioner Kathi Cozzone. “Chester County remains the fastest growing county in the State, and issues such as stormwater management have become very important in addressing the growth.”
“These new regulations that must be imposed upon the County and our municipalities by state and federal mandates have raised concerns with many municipalities, as they are worried about how much it will restrict local industry as well as residents,” added Commissioner Ryan Costello. “Through our Water Resources Authority, we have been spending many months discussing and addressing these issues, and have drafted an ordinance that we believe deals with many of these concerns while still being compliant with the state regulations.”
Some of the concerns about the new state mandate expressed by Chester County local officials include:
1) The size of projects that must comply with the new requirements must be reasonable and practical for residential property owners.
2) The requirements for engineered stormwater management measures and municipal review must not create unaffordable financial hardship for farmers and residents.
3) Runoff and flood flow control standards should be flexible to reflect the wide range of conditions between highly developed and rural municipalities.
4) The municipal stormwater regulations and requirements are unfunded mandates being imposed by federal and state government on municipalities and land owners.
5) The added burden and costs for municipalities associated with the additional stormwater plan reviews, enforcement and inspections now required must be minimized.
6) Municipalities must be given sufficient time to review and understand the model ordinance in advance of the deadline for adoption.
“The revised draft model ordinance provides options, where possible, that allow municipalities to tailor the ordinance to best fit the needs and interests of their community,” said Janet Bowers, Director of Chester County’s Water Resources Authority. “However, the document is still subject to DEP review and approval.”
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has extended the timeframe needed for municipal adoption, and comments on the latest draft model ordinance are being accepted until August 31, 2012.
Chester County is the first county in Pennsylvania to initiate a strategic planning process and has a Aaa rating on its bonds from Moody’s Investors Service as well as AAA ratings from Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings. Established by William Penn as one of Pennsylvania’s three original counties, Chester County has been named by Forbes.com as one of America’s best places to raise a family and is ranked one of the healthiest county in Pennsylvania by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.