Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Conservation and Recreation
Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board
Stormwater Management Regulations AS 9 VAC 25-870 [4 VAC 50 ‑ 60]
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.
Stage Proposed
Comment Period Ended on 8/21/2009
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8/21/09  2:45 pm
Commenter: David Smith; Concerned Citizen

Do Not Pass

The legislation as proposed is very ill advised and will compound problems associated with cleaning up the bay while encouraging better growth planning and economic development.

  • According to researchers at Virginia Tech who studied this proposal last fall, there doesn’t appear to be any scientific data to support the proposed .28 lbs per acre per year mitigation standard for phosphorus runnoff. DCR has refused to state why this level has been set or provide any scientific data to support its conclusions.
  • For residential development, a .28 standard will require larger home lot sizes and more dedicated open space so that the land can adequately filter pollutants from runoff before it reaches tributaries flowing into the watershed. As larger lots and more open space is needed, more land will also be needed. Builders and developers will look further outside of urban areas for that land because land is limited in most urban areas. The .28 standard will cause urban sprawl on an enormous level. Even some environmentalists admit this fact and know it contradicts their objective.
  • For commercial development, with its larger structural footprints, a .28 standard is realistically impossible to meet. Civil engineers have determined that developers would have to purchase almost double the normal amount of land to build a simple 80,000-square-foot, three-story office building, making construction financially unfeasible. Even more land would be needed for industrial development as it manages chemicals and other harmful materials, making it too expensive to undertake as well.
  • For our counties and cities, the smallest of elementary schools currently built on 20 acres would need almost 35 acres under this proposal, making it far too expensive for a local government to build. The larger the school, the more land that would have to be purchased and the higher the cost to local governments. The .28 standard would make new construction overly costly for financially-strapped local governments and essentially stop commercial construction, doing permanent damage to economic development efforts statewide.
  • The requirement of a 20 percent reduction from predevelopment loads on redevelopment projects will discourage redevelopment, particularly in urban areas, due to its cost ineffectiveness.
  • The proposed reg will severely limit efforts to encourage infill development. This is, in effect, anti-environmental!
  • The regulation will seriously hamper efforts to utilize state-mandated urban development areas (UDA) in high-growth areas. UDAs, mandated by HB 3202 during the 2008 General Assembly, will provide high-density residential and commercial development where people can use mass transportation or self-transportation options to get around, cutting traffic congestion and air pollutants and encouraging more open space. Under the proposed regulations, UDAs most likely cannot be utilized.
  • New "workforce housing' would be severely limited due to the costs. Organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, the Virginia Housing and Development Agency and HOME would suffer heavily under the proposed regulations.
  • CCR's projected cost associated with this program are at odds with respected civil engineering firms' calculations. The Economic Impact Analysis from the Virginia Department of Planning and Budget (DPB) states, "the total incremental costs to the state of implementing additional stormwater control practices to meet the proposed regulatory changes could not be estimated at this time."  Why is the state looking to approve such a far reaching regulation without even understanding its costs?
  • This proposal has been developed specifically to help clean-up and protect the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Why, then, are counties that do not lie in the watershed a part of this proposal? The proposal should include only counties within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. The DPB economic impact analysis suggests this as well.
  • While DCR data show that agricultural sources present a larger nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment runoff problem than development, the proposal offers no regulation on agricultural sources. Despite the voluntary measures taken by agribusiness, the DCR data still show agricultural sources measuring almost three times the sediment runoff, more than twice the nitrogen runoff and almost 50 percent more phosphorus runoff than development. So why does the proposal treat the development industry as the sole cause of pollutants running into the Bay?
  • A Technical Advisory Committee was formed by DCR to help draft these regulations. According to members who sat on that committee, no consensus for approval of these regulations was ever obtained.
  • Some engineers believe that, were the current stormwater management regulations to be fully enforced, the state could eliminate up to 75 percent of the problems with pollutant control into the watershed. If this is true, the actual cost of a new program built upon the current program would be considerably less.

    CommentID: 9873