Town officials have a problem. Thanks to recent state legislation, the town of Chapel Hill has less ability to enforce stormwater requirements in some development projects.
In most of Chapel Hill, this is not an issue. Mayor Pam Hemminger said the existing town ordinance gives officials the ability to manage stormwater in other parts of the town just fine.
“We are part of the Jordan Lake Watershed, and we follow the Jordan Lake rules,” Hemminger said. “Mostly, we follow them because in our ordinances we have what’s called the RCD, the Resource Conservation District, which allows us to set those buffer rules.”
But the Blue Hill District around Ephesus Church Road is different. There, the rules were changed through the town’s form-based code that streamlines the development approval process. But now the state law has changed, and the town has little control over the stormwater management of new developments in the Blue Hill District.
Mayor Pam Hemminger told WCHL’s Aaron Keck that the management of stormwater is crucial to countering the effects of flooding, especially as man-made changes to the climate are increasing the frequency of heavy storms.
“As we know, Chapel Hill is kind of in a basin here,” Hemminger said. “How do we prepare ourselves and be ready before it happens so we can make sure people are safe, that businesses can stay open, that people can get where they need to go.”
On Monday, the town will hold a public information meeting about the revision they are looking to make in order to regain some control over stormwater management in Blue Hill developments.
A proposed text amendment to the code, outlined on the town’s website, would incentivize developments that treat stormwater to the standards used previously in the Blue Hill District.
Monday’s meeting about the proposed changes will be held at 5:15 p.m. at Town Hall in the first floor conference room. The town council is scheduled to consider the revisions at a May 22 council meeting.
Photo via Town of Chapel Hill