Mapping is guide for storm water fees

Shawn Hardy

Greencastle Borough Council accepted the groundwork for establishing stormwater management fees following a presentation Monday by Council President Steve Miller.

The fees will be used to pay for projects and associated costs to comply with the borough's MS4 (municipal separate storm sewer system) permit. The federal EPA mandate administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection requires the borough to reduce the amount of sediment it sends to the Chesapeake Bay by 10 percent under the five-year MS4 permit issued in 2018.

Fees were proposed then tabled last fall as borough officials tried to find the best way to fund MS4, which will cost around $861,000 through 2023, according to numbers presented in November by Borough Manager Eden Ratliff.

Dollar figures for the fees were not discussed Monday, but Miller said it is his goal to have them in place for the second quarter utility bills that go out in July.

Impervious area

Miller, who has a degree in civil engineering and 30-plus years of engineering experience, served as technical adviser and created the impervious mapping report for free.

Miller used high-resolution aerial Pictometry and other online tools to examine every property in the borough and determine its impervious area.

Impervious area refers to solid surfaces where rain water runs off instead of soaking in.

The definition provided in his report:

"A manmade structure or surface that prevents infiltration of rainwater into the ground as it would in a native undeveloped state; such as a buildings, sheds, gazebos, roof-covered decks/patios, roadways, driveways, sidewalks, parking lots, solid surface patios, tennis courts, decorative or retaining walls or permanent water retention features such as a pool or pond.

"Additionally, manmade structure or surface that significantly impedes infiltration of rainwater into the ground as it would in a native undeveloped state; such as a compacted gravel/dirt roadways, sidewalks or walkways, compacted bare soils, artificial turf, porous concrete/asphalt and/or paver stones."

The borough has 14,262,624 square feet of impervious areas on 1,652 parcels.

"Council's job is to now divide that up to determine the fee," Miller said.

Miller also explained that some properties are located in both the borough and Antrim Township and will be billed proportionately. For example, the borough-township line runs through the Greencastle-Antrim Elementary and Greencastle-Antrim Primary School tracts.

In addition, he talked about how property owners can earn credits toward their fee by adding best management practices for stormwater management to their properties.

Some municipalities are spending more than $50,000 for similar reports and many of Miller's fellow council members recognized him for his work and the money it saved.

Council voted to accept the definition and methodology for calculating impervious and pervious areas, subject to legal and engineering review.

The next steps include developing the fees, appeal process and credit program; presenting these plans to council and revising as needed; and drafting, advertising and voting on an ordinance.

What will be done

The borough is planning two projects to met the sediment reduction goals, including stormwater management work associated with the upcoming courtyard construction and parking lot expansion at Lilian S. Besore Library.

The borough intends to partner with Antrim Township, which also is facing MS4 permit sediment reduction requirements, for a stream bank restoration project along Paddy Run west of town.

In addition to raising money for those projects, Miller said, "It is anticipated that the MS4 program will be reauthorized after 2023 and future projects required."

The Borough of Greencastle and Antrim Township among the municipalities located in the central part of Franklin County facing the requirements based on their "urbanized" area designation in the last census and proximity to the Conococheague Creek.