COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE
Stormwater Regulatory Considerations
Response to August 2008 report entitled “Before the Storm: Reducing the Damage from Polluted Stormwater Runoff”
Messrs. Tucker, Foley, Davis, Graham, Brooks, Harper
LEGAL REVIEW: Yes
May 6, 2009
ACTION: X INFORMATION:
On August 6, 2008, the County Board received a report on ways to reduce the impacts from polluted stormwater runoff. The report is entitled “Before the Storm: Reducing the Damage from Polluted Stormwater Runoff” (“Before the Storm”) and was prepared by the Southern Environmental Law Center, Rivanna Conservation Society, and the University of Virginia School of Law’s Environmental Law and Conservation Clinic. The report is provided as Attachment A. Following the presentation of this report, the Board directed staff to consider how the report’s recommendations could be incorporated into the County’s ordinances. In response, staff has been working with the report’s authors to develop a set of recommendations for the Board’s consideration. The purpose of today’s work session is to review those recommendations and determine if staff should proceed to preparing ordinance amendments for any of them.
Goal 2: Protect the County's Natural, Scenic and Historic Resources
Goal 4: Effectively Manage Growth and Development
The authors of the “Before the Storm” report will provide a presentation to the Board on the recommendations.
Staff and the report’s authors reviewed the report and the County’s ordinances to determine where opportunities for improvement existed. As a result of those meetings, a set of recommendations was developed and forwarded to the Board. Those recommendations are outlined in Attachment B and have been further defined in Attachment C. The five changes are summarized below.
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.
Of the five recommendations, the time limit for disturbance (#4) is the only one that staff believes will result in a significant reduction of stream pollution. The remaining recommendations provide some benefits and staff agrees they are improvements over the current ordinance, but the effects will remain small. The last recommendation (#5) is an administrative change and will not require an ordinance amendment.
Prior to bringing this to the Board for discussion, staff and the report’s authors held a roundtable discussion on March 24th to provide the public an opportunity to review the recommendations and ask questions. Staff noted the following comments on the above recommendations:
1) Office parking - No concerns were noted with reducing the parking requirement for professional office space. It was noted this relaxes the current ordinance requirements.
2) Expanded parking - No concerns were noted, though there was clarification that this required stormwater addition only applied to the additional parking, not the total parking.
3) Parking Lot Landscaping - There were concerns with raising this from 5% to 10% of the parking area, primarily with understanding the net effect. It was noted that this did not truly double the parking landscaping as it allowed vehicle overhang and double counting of best management practices in parking lots such as bioswales. In some circumstances, this might result in no reduction in the building area, where in other situations, it could possibly reduce the building area.
4) Limit time of disturbance - This was the recommendation with the most concern. In presenting this recommendation, it was noted this requirement was intended to match what has been proffered in recent rezonings and effectively put all development on a level playing field. Several members of the development community expressed concern with the complexity and cost of compliance with large sites, suggesting this would be very difficult with large multi-phase developments. In response to the roundtable input, this recommendation was revised to allow a disturbance for 12 months and provide an administrative modification for an additional 6 months. Denial of an extension request or a request for time beyond this could be appealed to the Board. Staff anticipates the development community will continue to have strong objections to this recommendation.
5) Agreements in lieu of a plan - There were no concerns noted at the roundtable with respect to an enhanced Agreement in Lieu of a Plan. Basically, this is providing better information to potential permit holders.
Staff does not believe any of the recommendations create a need for additional staff or expanded budgets. The recommendations simply refine existing requirements rather than create new programs. A budget analysis and associated fee recommendation will be prepared for any ordinance amendment that is brought forward.
Staff requests that the Board identify the recommendations it is interested in considering to adopt. If there is interest in proceeding to ordinance amendments, staff will program this into the work program and anticipates bringing the ordinance amendments forward by late Summer. As previously noted to the Board in February, some unassigned capacity was reserved in the Community Development work program for new initiatives such as this.
Attachment A - “Before the Storm: ..”
Attachment B – Stormwater Recommendations
Attachment C – Proposed Regulatory Changes
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