Storm-water program will increase permit fees
by Larry Chowning
As of July 1, 2014, Middlesex County will be responsible for regulating its own storm-water management and, because of this, permit fees for building a basic house on a lot are going to increase.
The storm-water management program is a mandate ordered through the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The intent of the program is to reduce storm-water runoff into the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.
Carolyn A. Howard of Draper Aden Associates, the county’s consultant on the matter, told the Middlesex Board of Supervisors at its November 6 meeting that construction of a home on a lot with more than 2,500 square feet of “land disturbance” will require a fee of $2,700, along with professional engineering fees for site development.
“If each lot is developed under a separate permit, the fee for a 10-lot subdivision could cost as much as $27,000,” said Howard. Of this amount, 72% will go to the county to pay for administrating the program, and 28% will go to DEQ.
Howard noted the county’s 72% in fee revenues will not cover total county expenses in administering the program. It will cost Middlesex $50,000 to $100,000 annually over what the county will receive from the fees to adminster the program. “The permit fees are not going to pay for the project!” she said.
Howard said that over the next 10 years Middlesex County will most likely have to hire a full-time person to administer the program or increase the workload of county staff members.
The program impacts all building projects that disturb 2,500 square feet of land per acre or more. The builder will have to provide a plan to direct water away from the watershed; the plan will have to be approved by the county; and the project will have to be regularly inspected by the county. This will require engineering services that are not now required, said Howard.
“This could mean building drainage ponds or some other way to mitigate storm-water [runoff],” she said.
The program also gives the county eminent domain rights, which means county officials can go on private property to make sure storm-water management systems are working.
“Isn’t agriculture the main culprit in polluting the bay?” asked Saluda District supervisor Pete Mansfield.
Howard said Mansfield was correct, but the storm-water management program has nothing to do with agriculture runoff, which is being handled through another program.
“It doesn’t sound like we have too many choices,” said Mansfield.
“I never thought we would have to manage the rain,” said Miller.
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