BERLIN – A new stormwater ordinance mandated by the state would not affect proposed development projects in Berlin, according to town staff.
There are no projects in Berlin that have reached a stage where stormwater management has been set, so nothing has to be changed, or grandfathered into the ordinance.
“They’re not far enough along that anybody’s going to be mistreated by the application of this ordinance,” said Berlin Mayor Gee Williams during discussions of possible changes to the ordinance.
On Monday night, the Berlin Mayor and Council discussed adding language to the proposed stormwater ordinance to incorporate future changes made to the state requirements by the Maryland General Assembly, which is currently considering some changes to the state law.
The additional language would simply state that the stormwater ordinance would be amended to comply with any changes made at the state level.
“It really is a controversy that doesn’t directly affect us,” said Williams.
Local jurisdictions must pass the new ordinance, under the current form of the state legislation, by May 4.
The town council will hold a public hearing on the stormwater ordinance on during the April 12 council meeting.
The town is also taking more direct steps to handle stormwater flooding in one neighborhood, with a study on the feasibility of a stormwater pond in the perennially flooding Graham Avenue area.
The town council wants to know how much water a stormwater pond at the fenced in property between Old Ocean City Blvd. and Graham Avenue could handle. That property is not being used for anything else currently, town staff said.
While the new stormwater ordinance would require the use of environmental site design instead of stormwater structures to manage run-off, the Graham Avenue neighborhood probably needs a stormwater structure, Darl Kolar of EA Engineering said Monday night.
Kolar said that he would also evaluate other privately-owned spots in the area for run-off management.
“How much stormwater can that area accommodate? Is it feasible to accommodate as much stormwater as we want to accommodate? We don’t want to solve 50 percent of the problem,” Kolar said.
Part of the feasibility study is to determine how much land is needed to handle the neighborhood’s stormwater to prevent flooding. The study will take into account run-off problems from unusual storm events, such as the blizzards of this past winter.
“We’ll be able to determine a size given a certain depth,” Kolar said.
The town could consider the purchase of other empty lots in the area if necessary, Kolar said.
‘Isn’t it possible to start to alleviate the problem if we start by using the property we already own?” Williams asked.
The idea is to take the first step in handling that flooding problem, not to solve it entirely with a single project.
“I can’t imagine how we can solve any one problem in one fell swoop,” said Williams.
Some relief should be possible using the town-owned property, Williams said.
“I certainly think it’s going to help considerably,” Kolar said.
The council unanimously approved the bid by EA Engineering. Councilman Troy Purnell, who owns property in the area that he plans to develop, abstained from the vote.