New Stormwater Rules Pitched For Berlin

BERLIN – New stormwater regulations, including a waiver provision, have been drafted and are under review by Berlin town officials.

Stormwater consultant Darl Kolar presented the regulations to the Berlin Mayor and Council on Monday night.

The new regulations, procedures and checklist have been underway for months, since the town took over responsibility for stormwater per state law in May, said Mayor Gee Williams.

“It’s a totally new responsibility, a stormwater utility,” said Williams. “This now puts some meat on the bones of that.”

Kolar presented a fee schedule, waiver process, checklist, contractor agreements and maintenance agreements to be used in managing stormwater impacts at Monday night’s meeting. The new procedures will require substantial documentation, so the consultant can review the request in depth.

If a single-family home project disturbs less than 5,000 square feet of soil, the project is exempt from the stormwater management ordinance. Actions that disturb soil include building a house or other structure and constructing driveways and walkways. The possibility of even a small home not disturbing that much land is slim, however.

Stormwater review prior to building is intended to make sure that building does not simply push stormwater onto neighboring properties.

The new stormwater regulations also call for no changes to existing ditches without review.
The town will also look at areas that already need stormwater mitigation, Kolar said.

Under the new rules, builders would submit a concept plan, a site development plan and a final plan before construction could commence. Developments will require an overall stormwater plan taking construction of all elements into account.

The new regulations might discourage home building and push new residents into buying existing houses on the market, Berlin Councilwoman Paula Lynch noted.

“It’s an added cost. There’s no doubt,” Councilman Troy Purnell said.
“It’s looking for ways to make stormwater management applicable and practical,” said Williams.
“This is not, I think, an anti-development regulation,” said Kolar.

Lynch recalls when Henry’s Green and Henry’s Mill, developments now notorious for flooding, were built.

“Now we’re saying we won’t have that problem because we’re in charge of our own destiny,” said Lynch.

The council will spend a month looking over the new regulations before making a decision to adopt.