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Fairfield mulls storm water plan

Richard D. L. Fulton
Emmitsburg News-Journal

(9/16) The Fairfield Borough Planning Commission continued to review a county-recommended plan to address storm water management at their September 12 meeting.

Robert Thaeler, Adams County Office of Planning and Development (ACOPD), stated that the county has developed a "bare bones" storm water management plan option for the county’s 34 municipalities to consider, which would supersede previous regional plans, such as the Monocacy Watershed Plan.

Thaeler stated that state Act 167, enacted in 1978, requires all counties in Pennsylvania to develop a storm water management plan for each watershed in their jurisdiction, but, he said, "The state had never fully funded the program."

As a result of the lack of funding, counties across the state had done very little in producing the mandated plans.

The purpose of a storm water management plan is to regulate pollution and silt runoff from properties into tributaries that ultimately impact larger water bodies, including rivers such as the Monocacy and the Chesapeake Bay.

"A couple of years ago," Thaeler said, "the state decided it wanted to move away from watershed-based plans," and now wanted the counties to do county-wide storm water management plans that addressed runoff issues in general. Then came more state budget cuts.

Development is presently subject to two, sometimes conflicting, sets of runoff regulations, those imposed by the Monocacy Watershed Plan and those imposed by the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) regulations.

Thaeler stated that those sets of rules require developers to have to execute two different engineering studies, one to satisfy the Monocacy rules and one to satisfy those set by the NPDES, and can require small property owners to conduct an engineering study if they wanted to erect something as simple as a garage.

Thaeler categorized those legislative aberrations as "unattended consequences" of the two sets of regulations.

The planner said the county developed its proposed runoff management plan to "hopefully be less of a burden to small property owners" and resolve the issue of developers having to create two sets of engineering studies for one project, and the proposed plan was distributed to the municipalities in August.

The municipalities have until October 14 to file comments on the county proposal. Thaeler stated that once the comments had been addressed, the plan would go before the county commissioners for their approval, and then to the state Department of Environmental Protection for their sign-off.

Municipalities can opt to amend their existing storm water runoff regulations to reflect the proposed rules, or they can adopt a model ordinance developed by the county, once the state has approved the county’s proposal.

The Borough Planning Commission took no formal action on the proposal at their September meeting.

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