August 1, 2014

Public hearing Monday for new stormwater fee

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April 17th, 2014

By Stephanie Choate
Observer staff
After working to develop an ordinance and fee structure for required stormwater system upgrades, the town plans to hold a public hearing on the issue.
The hearing is set for April 21 at 8 p.m. at the Town Hall, during the regular Selectboard meeting. It is intended to gather public comment on the proposed stormwater ordinance, which will establish rules, regulations and fees for stormwater services in Williston.
Almost all landowners in Williston would be charged the fee, which would be used to pay for state and federally mandated upgrades to Williston’s stormwater system—part of an effort to address water pollution from runoff and avoid flooding. Undeveloped properties—those with less than 500 square feet of impervious surface—would be exempt.
If approved, the fee would go into effect Jan. 1, 2015.
The ordinance and fee structure is based on other stormwater utilities across the country, Bruce Hoar told the Selectboard.The user fee—charged to all landowners in Williston—would be based on Equivalent Residential Units, or ERUs. An ERU represents the median amount of impervious service on a single-family residence. Impervious surfaces include roofs, paved or gravel driveways, patios, decks and parking lots. Rain and snowmelt runs off these impervious surfaces, carrying sediment and pollutants into streams.
Most single-family homes would equate to one ERU. Single-family homeowners whose property has an impervious surface area in the top 10th percentile of all Williston properties will be billed for two ERUs.
Non-single family residences—such as businesses and town- or state-owned property—will be charged based on the amount of impervious surface on the property using a tier system.
The ordinance also includes a credit system. Credits could be awarded for significant stormwater systems, facilities, activities and services, though credits would not be available for single-family residences.
Stormwater user fees would be billed quarterly.
Town Manager Rick McGuire estimates that the town will need to spend a total of $6 million to bring the town’s stormwater systems up to date. Approximately $2 million of that is required for townwide capital projects and administrative costs to develop a plan to control polluted runoff into waterways, then implement that plan within 20 years. Williston’s Allen Brook is on the state’s list of waterways impaired by stormwater.
Williston also has 31 holders of expired stormwater discharge permits—26 of which are housing or commercial developments, two are schools, two are VTrans properties and one is the town—which will need to spend an estimated $4 million to bring their systems into compliance. The town is working on ways to help those permit-holders.
Copies of the ordinance are available at the town manager’s office in the Town Hall or online at town.williston.vt.us. Click the General Information tab, then select Legal Notices.

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