The Franklin News-Post|
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Monday, October 21, 2013
By CHARLES BOOTHE - Staff Writer
Another unfunded mandate will cost Franklin County residents more in fees and for construction projects.
That was the message delivered by Neil Holthouser, the county's director of planning and community development, to the board of supervisors last week.
It is a state mandate, but from the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and requires certain stormwater management guidelines be met to help protect the environment.
Holthouser said that means the county must establish fees to review plans and inspect construction sites to make sure those guidelines are met.
Those fees range from a minimum of $209 up to $3,400 or more, depending on the scope of the project and acres of land involved.
The state will get 28 percent of all fees, Holthouser said.
"These are big fees," he said, adding that the county will also have to hire an extra staff member to handle the added work.
Holthouser said the fees are the ones recommended by the state, but they may not raise enough money to offset the expense of handling the extra work involved.
All localities already have a state-mandated soil erosion and sediment control programs, but the new stormwater management regulations are more restrictive and will also mean more work up front for developers.
Holthouser and his staff are already meeting with local developers, keeping them apprised of the details and involving them in the process, leading up to the implementation of the new regulations on July 1, 2014.
A stormwater management ordinance must also be adopted by the county by April 1, 2014, he added. County staff will also host community meetings to review the plans with residents.
The towns of Rocky Mount and Boones Mill must either develop their own stormwater management plans or turn that responsibility over to the county, which they have indicated they will do, Holthouser said.
County Administrator Rick Huff said the county is in a "dialogue" with both towns about helping pay for the program, but they are not "under any obligation to assist."
Several supervisors expressed dismay with the new regulations.
Gills Creek District Supervisor Bob Camicia referred to the mandate as "ludicrous" and blasted the EPA for tying the hands of the states.
Virginia is one of the last states to comply with the mandate.
Camicia said the EPA is one of the "government agencies answerable to no one."
Blackwater District Supervisor Cline Brubaker said he wanted all county residents to know that the county has no choice in the matter, that it is required and will be enforced by the state.
"This is not our doing," he said.
Huff said he anticipates many others will not be happy with the new regulations, which will be "right at the top of my list" of anticipated complaints.