2010-06-03 / Local & State

County Stormwater Planning Ordinance Questioned

Approval of countywide plan set for June 28
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz STAFF WRITER

Veterans salute during the playing of “Taps” at Monday’s Memorial Day service at Union Cemetery. Pictured from left to right are: Robert Huffman, Sr., Commander, VFW Post 655, Monte Rasp, Commander, Sons of the American Legion Post 561, Robert Snyder, Honor Guard Chaplain, Col. John Cross (U.S. Army), guest speaker and George Black, Commander, American Legion Post 561. Veterans salute during the playing of “Taps” at Monday’s Memorial Day service at Union Cemetery. Pictured from left to right are: Robert Huffman, Sr., Commander, VFW Post 655, Monte Rasp, Commander, Sons of the American Legion Post 561, Robert Snyder, Honor Guard Chaplain, Col. John Cross (U.S. Army), guest speaker and George Black, Commander, American Legion Post 561. A builder from southern Fulton County took the opportunity on Tuesday morning to publicly air his concerns regarding the proposed ordinance drafted in conjunction with the ongoing countywide stormwater planning project.

Joe Hagerty from Bethel Township appeared at the June 1 public meeting organized by county landuse planner Steve Thomas as a follow up to a May 28 e-mail to the Fulton County commissioners where he expressed his anxiety with the ordinance. On hand to hear Hagerty’s comments and review his letter were Barry Newman, chief of the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) division of Planning and Management, and engineer Matthew Bonanno of HRG Inc.

Hagerty touched on square footage as it relates to impervious areas and noted 5,000 square feet appeared to be a low number. He suggested 10,000 square feet as the minimum number for larger lots that often occur in county. It was noted DEP had previously requested 2,500 square feet, but the stormwater planning committee developing the project and drafted ordinance opted to settle for the number 5,000.

“In the manner in which the model ordinance is compiled it relates to large scale earth-moving projects and high impact or high uses of nonporous materials in development. These issues are and should be evaluated so as to protect the water quality for our use and the future generations of our citizens,” said Hagerty in his letter. “Most development that has taken place has been on larger tracts of land, two or more acres. The proposed restrictions (less than 5,000 feet) on sizes of disturbed area do not allow enough credit for the larger lot size being able to hand the water infiltration potential.”

Newman pointed out to those in attendance as long as the new impervious area was designed for private use, it was not necessary to require a registered engineer to complete a stormwater management plan. He added a two-tiered implementation could be utilized, but he had not before seen any ordinances use a number higher for 5,000 square feet for impervious areas.

Hagerty also questioned whether the county possesses drainage area maps for watersheds and inlets and suggested using perc test results to determine absorption capability and the number of square feet of impervious surface. Thomas reported maps are only currently available for the Cove Creek area.

“I hope ... a better, more userfriendly way of establishing a set of guidelines can be passed so that the common individual can do most of the implementation and planning themselves. Anything to help cut costs and protect the water supply with a common sense approach will make this something anyone would want to do as the right thing for the future of Fulton County,” Hagerty concluded in his e-mail.

Others submitting comments in writing were the Ayr Township Board of Supervisors, which compared the new proposed plan to the old Cove Creek plan. Clem Malot of Hustontown provided verbal comment and questioned the overall effect of stormwater planning on local forestry and timber harvesting operations. Malot was informed stormwater planning law essentially exempts both forestry and timber harvesting operations even though they must submit plans to the Conservation District for review and approval. Meanwhile, the topic of riparian buffers was touched on by Derek Winegardner of Fort Littleton.

Bonanno and Thomas are slated to draw up a response to Hagerty’s public comments and e-mail. Furthermore, the commissioners are scheduled to consider the comments made in writing and verbally in order to take action on the plan on June 28.

County auditors Phyllis Bard, Rebecca Kendall and Kimberley Seiders announced to the commissioners they have completed their interim audit report. It was noted that even though the audit has been largely completed to date, it is still deemed interim under the accrual system as the county is still eligible to post journal entries for the year 2009 through June 30, 2010.

The auditors concluded they encountered no problems during the course of auditing the county’s books, and the offices appear to be following good accounting practices.

On a motion by Commissioner David Hoover, the commissioners unanimously agreed to extend a contract with Dennis E. Black Engineering Inc. until December 7 or until several projects have reached finalization. Among those projects cited by the commissioners were the south-end sewer extension project in Bethel Township; installation of handicapped parking and stormwater management at the Fulton County Food Basket as well as interior renovations and HVAC upgrades; an upgrade to handicapped accessibility at the Hustontown Joint Sewage Authority.

As a follow-up, the commissioners issued a Notice to Proceed to P&W Excavating to begin work at the parking lot of the Food Basket.

County project developer Karen Hann reported a rightof way meeting will be held between JLG, PennDOT and Ott Brothers on Thursday concerning the JLG/Route 16 turning lane project.

Domestic Relations Supervisor Deidi Ritz presented the commissioners with a cooperative agreement with the state for reimbursement. The agreement, which falls under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act, will begin effective September 30, 2010, and conclude September 30, 2015. In accepting the agreement, the county will be eligible to receive 66 percent reimbursement from the state for certain expenditures related to the domestic relations office.

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