|Action||Amend Parts I, II, and III of the Virginia Stormwater Management Program Permit Regulations to address water quality and quantity and local stormwater management program criteria.|
|Comment Period||Ends 8/21/2009|
I am writing to express my support for the pollution-reduction standards outlined in proposed amendments to the Virginia Stormwater Management Program (VSMP) and to request changes to the regulations that would help avoid unintended consequences such as sprawl and stale zoning and mitigate the economic impact on homebuyers.
As you know, the proposal submitted by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) calls for a reduction in phosphorous pollution from .45 lbs/acre/year to .28 lbs/acre/year for new development and a 20% reduction below predevelopment load for properties that are being redeveloped. These are worthy, science-based standards that are closely tied to our goals for reducing nutrient pollution to the Chesapeake Bay. Overall, these new standards are expected to result in significant reductions in phosphorous pollution—a key indicator of overall nutrient pollution in the Bay.
My concerns derive not from the standards—which I believe must be kept fully intact for us to achieve meaningful progress on Bay cleanup. Rather, I am concerned that the regulations as written might unintentionally contribute to sprawl and, in some cases, result in stale zoning.
The proposed regulations measure runoff by the acre. However, when measured by the house, higher densities produce less stormwater runoff. This provides a disincentive for smart growth and may lead to increased sprawl. Further, if a project is already rezoned with proffers committed, mandatory reductions in density could render some projects unbuildable, resulting in stale zoning. DCR should reexamine the regulations to reward smart growth and reduce the likelihood of stale zoning.
I also encourage DCR to consider proposals that allow for off-site credits as an alternative to traditional on-site improvements. For instance, DCR could allow developers to earn credits for helping farmers implement best management practices, provide additional state funding for existing stream mitigation programs run by localities, or provide competitive tax credits to help developers meet and exceed the 20% reduction target for redeveloped properties. Changes to the proposed regulations that allow for more creative off-site solutions will both reduce the impact of the new requirements on individual developers and allow Virginia to meet its overall targets for pollution reduction.
Senator Creigh Deeds