TO:                 Albemarle County Board of Supervisors          


FROM:           Morgan Butler, Southern Environmental Law Center

                        Robbi Savage, Rivanna Conservation Society

                        Leon Szeptycki, UVA Environmental Law and Conservation Clinic


DATE:            March 5, 2009


RE:                 Recommendations for Reducing Damage from Stormwater Runoff



Last summer we published and presented to you a report entitled, Before the Storm: Reducing the Damage from Polluted Stormwater Runoff.  As you may recall, our report details the ways in which stormwater runoff is harming County waterways, and it then outlines a number of straightforward changes to County ordinances and policies that would help address this growing problem.  At the conclusion of our presentation, the Board invited us to work with County staff to refine and finalize a set of priority recommendations for your consideration.  This memo provides a status update for your review; we look forward to bringing our final recommendations back to you in the near future. 


Summary of Meetings


We presented an overview of the report and recommendations to you at your day meeting on August 6, 2008.  Since then, we have met on three separate occasions with Mark Graham (Director of Community Development), Glenn Brooks (County Engineer), and Greg Harper (Water Resources Manager), to develop a subset of priority recommendations and to think through their implementation.  Those meetings occurred on August 29, October 29 and January 13.  We also met with the Government Affairs Committee of the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce in October to present and discuss our report.  These meetings are in addition to a large number of formal and informal discussions we have held throughout the course of this project with representatives of our area’s environmental and development communities.


Priority Recommendations


Having incorporated the helpful feedback we have received from County staff and the many community representatives with whom we have met, we have now refined a set of priority recommendations that we believe would offer the greatest water quality benefit without administratively burdening County staff or imposing an unreasonable financial cost on the development community.  Indeed, in line with one of the goals of our project, we believe our recommendations will facilitate and enhance the efforts of many local developers who are looking for ways to help minimize the impacts of their projects on local waterways and the environment generally.


Our five priority recommendations are:


1)      Reduce the minimum parking space requirement for professional office space.

2)      Require stronger on-site stormwater protections when surface parking lots will exceed the County’s maximum limit on parking spaces.

3)      Increase the percentage of parking lot area that must be landscaped with vegetation, while granting developers the flexibility to use on-site stormwater facilities to: (1) meet the landscaping requirement, and (2) satisfy a Code provision that allows developers to reduce the length of individual parking spaces (and thereby reduce the size of the overall parking lot).   

4)      Create a firmer time limit on how long large areas of earth on construction sites may be left denuded and destabilized. 

5)      Provide more detail about the protective measures developers and landowners must take when they opt to enter into an erosion control agreement with the County instead of submitting a formal erosion and sediment control plan. 


Next Steps


Looking forward, we would like to work with County staff to schedule a presentation and discussion of the revised priority recommendations to the Government Affairs Committee of the Chamber of Commerce, representatives of the Free Enterprise Forum and the Blue Ridge Homebuilders, and other interested members of the business and development communities.  We would then like to return to the Board for a work session to present and explain the recommendations to you.  We have asked staff to set aside time for this work session during your day meeting on May 6.  The final step would be a formal public hearing later in the spring or early summer.


Please let us or County staff know if you have any questions or suggestions.  Again, we look forward to presenting the final results of our work to you in the coming months.


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