After a lengthy description of an updated stormwater ordinance, the Ferguson Township Board of Supervisors decided to hold off on sending the ordinance to public hearing as more discussion was needed.
The current stormwater ordinance was adopted by the township in August 2014, according to engineer Scott Brown, who was reappointed as the designated township engineer for stormwater management plans Monday evening. As part of the adoption, the township received public objections to some ordinance provisions, agreeing to have the concerns investigated for further revisions.
A meeting between supervisors and the State College Borough Water Authority in July 2015 led to further suggestions by the SCBWA.
Some of the ordinance changes highlighted by Brown include a definition of water quality sensitive area districts, which consist “of all Zone 2 well head protection areas defined by (Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection) within township boundaries.” The township engineer will determine if a development is a “sensitive development,” and all water capture volume in these developments will be managed in a stormwater facility separate from the peak rate control facility.
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The maximum capture depth for a facility is set at 24 inches, he said, which was typically accepted as 36 inches in the past. A minimum 24 hours of drainage must occur to ensure adequate flow-through time for water treatment.
The plan also sets infiltration test requirements, he said, including methods of testing and location of tests. Maintenance of a stormwater facility on a private site will be the responsibility of the site owner or a property owners association.
Public comments were welcomed after the description of the ordinance. John Sepp, of PennTerra Engineering, spoke on behalf of eight other engineering firms that said they had concerns regarding the broad overview of the ordinance.
“It was stated a few times as design engineers it’s our responsibility to make the project work, not the reviewer’s responsibility,” he said. “The major concern we have about the ordinance is there’s not a lot of flexibility built into it.”
Sepp asked if the ordinance would cover projects that are already in development or almost completed, noting that one project is already on phase eight of a 10-phase plan. He noted the new ordinance restrictions will now be significantly stricter than the first 80 percent of the plan.
He also noted that much of Ferguson Township has already been built out within the growth boundary, and a small portion of the land will have to meet this new ordinance. This means a greater financial impact on the developments, which will be passed down in the cost of housing.
SCBWA board member Jason Grottini spoke after Sepp, saying while the developers are asking for more flexibility, he sought to have the ordinance strengthened.
“The water authority believes a wellhead overlay district is the best legal way to protect the land,” he said. “An update to the zoning ordinance should be done concurrently with the stormwater ordinance update.”
Brown commented earlier in the meeting that the stormwater ordinance did not include a wellhead protection overlay district update because such a plan would logically fall under the township’s zoning ordinances. A similar overlay was adopted by College Township in November prior to a large rezoning project.
Grottini requested retention of native soils within the wellhead zones and provisions for the water authority to be on-site for inspection and management, as well as restrictions on blasting. He also requested that the developers provide reimbursement to the water authority for review monitoring costs.
Monday’s agenda recommended that staff prepare the ordinance for a public hearing. Supervisors agreed that further discussion was needed to both add strengths and flexibility to the ordinance, and Chairman Steve Miller indicated the ordinance would be on the agenda for discussion at the next meeting.