County Alters Stormwater Fees To Meet Md. Law

SNOW HILL – Recent
changes to the Maryland stormwater regulations law now call for new fees as
well as multiple reviews for new construction, changes the Worcester County
Commissioners heard more about this week.

The commissioners signed
off on the fee changes Tuesday morning.

In the past, stormwater
management was the last consideration in the development process, said
Development Review and Permitting Director Ed Tudor.

Under the new state law,
stormwater must be considered at the beginning of the process and addressed

The county must also
review those designs more than once, which was the old standard.

“It has greatly
increased the complexity of the new process. We now have three separate plans,”
said Tudor.

The new process begins
with a concept plan, followed by a site development plan and then a final
stormwater management plan.

A seven-step flowchart
showing the new stormwater management design process for new construction adds
five steps to the current process.

The new stormwater
management regulations call for the retention of natural water flow paths,
reduction of impervious surfaces and the priority use of non-structural
practices to manage stormwater with structural approaches such as stormwater
ponds used only as a last resort.

The commissioners
approved a new fee schedule on Tuesday for stormwater management reviews. Some
types of development will see higher fees. One entirely new fee is also
included in the fee schedule. Fees are based on the amount of land disturbance,
at $3 per 1,000 square feet for residential construction.

Single- and two-family
homes will see little change from the current fees, according to Tudor, with a
$50 minimum fee per property for lots in subdivisions with an approved
subdivision-wide stormwater management plan. 

Lots outside such a subdivision would pay a $100 minimum fee.  Multi-family structures would cost a minimum

of $475.

The nominal fee should
not affect the later price of the house to a property buyer, Tudor said, unless
the lot is extremely large.

New agricultural
structures, which were not regulated under the previous law, must now submit
stormwater management plans, for a flat fee of $150. Waiver requests cost $75.

Commissioner Louise
Gulyas wondered if the fee for agricultural building stormwater plan review
would be too high for strapped farmers.

Commissioner Virgil
Shockley, a farmer, noted that the fee could cover chicken houses up to 500,000
square feet.

“You’re talking about moving
a lot of dirt around,” said Shockley.

The stormwater impact of
farm buildings can be huge. Shockley pointed to a Five Bridges Rd. farm with
five chicken houses. The road floods severely in storms, with county stormwater
ditches reaching capacity and beyond.

That farm has more
impervious surface than White Marlin Mall and the Factory Outlets combined,
said Natural Resources Administrator Chris McCabe.

A commercial project
like the White Marlin Mall and outlets complex would pay about $20,000 in
review fees under the new fee schedule, but a farm would pay a $150 flat

“This is actually a step
ahead,” Shockley said.

“You pay now, or you pay
later,” said Commissioner Linda Busick, adding that in some cases, the problem
cannot be fixed at all after the structure is built.