Ahead of the storm

By on March 26, 2014

Stormwater management has been a hot topic at municipal meetings across the state as the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) begins implementing new mandatory regulations, often referred to as MS4.

Borough Council members were told during their Tuesday evening meeting that Lititz’s existing regulations are ahead of the curve.

MS4 involves publicly-owned systems of ditches, curbs, catch basins, underground pipes, etc. designed for collecting stormwater and treating it prior to discharging it to the state’s surface waters. It has become a hotbed issue over the past decade as efforts to reverse damage to the Chesapeake Bay have taken center stage. The regulation’s intent is to reduce the polluting effects of farm and roadway runoff as Pennsylvania waterways empty into the bay. Stemming from federal EPA efforts, it is also aimed at improving water quality throughout the states involved.

The problem has been, however, that MS4 regulations are not a “one size fits all” solution. Each municipality has been given certain guidelines and suggestions for how to revise local ordinances.

Mark Harmon, representing the borough’s engineering firm ARRO, was on hand to review the final details of the draft ordinance.

“Lititz should be congratulated for already having in place a good ordinance which does much of what the new regulations aim to accomplish,” he said. “In reviewing the current ordinance against the model ordinance presented countywide, all that needs to be done is add some additional documentation.”

One issue covered by the stormwater ordinance relates to the maximum amount of impervious (or hard surface space) allowable per property. Harmon needed council input on the project size exemptions. The county model suggests projects 1,000 square feet or smaller would not need to file a stormwater management plan. However, while the county sought to provide an overall cap to the amount of impervious, Harmon pointed out that many municipalities have chosen to decrease the overall allowable space.

That matter was taken up by council and the Lititz Planning Commission, which felt that 750 square feet would be adequate, whereas feedback from DEP indicated 500 square feet would be more compatible with the average lot size within the borough.

“In looking at the sizes of lots in the borough, we feel 500 square foot additional impervious is still manageable,” said council member Scott Hain. “Seven hundred fifty or 1,000 square feet begins to get too large.”

Harmon agreed that backing that number down to 500 square feet in an area like this is appropriate and makes it easier to manage as additional issues come in the future years.

Based on the feedback gathered from council, Harmon said the final proposed draft could be drawn up. Council unanimously approved advertising the new ordinance so that it could be on display for public review and the required public hearing on the matter could take place at next month’s meeting. Following that hearing, council would then have up to 30 days to act on the ordinance.

In other news, Hain updated council on efforts at the Lititz recCenter to embark on an expansion project. While the recCenter owns the building, it leases its land from the borough. The borough will need to secure about three acres from WarwickSchool District to allow for expansion of the building, parking lot and reconfiguration of the site entrance.

Hain pointed out that the project is in its earliest stages and will still need to clear the usual hurdles before the borough planning and zoning boards. Exact details regarding the scope and proposed time frame for the project are expected from recCenter officials in the near future.

Gary P. Klinger is a freelance reporter who covers the Lititz Borough and WarwickTownship municipal beats for the Record Express. He welcomes your feedback via email at klingerglobal@gmail.com or via Twitter, @gpklinger.

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