The creation of a
Porter County Stormwater Management Board, intended to prevent erosion and
provide flood control in the unincorporated areas, is underway as the Board
of Commissioners voted 3-0 Tuesday on first reading to approve an ordinance
establishing a board.
Before the vote,
the public hearing portion attracted representatives from local 501(c)(3)
preservation groups, including Herb Read of the Porter County Izaak Walton
League and Peg Mohar of the Shirley Heinze Land Trust.
Read spoke when the
Commissioners asked for comments supporting the ordinance and said that the
Izaak Walton League “already does a lot of the things” mentioned in the
ordinance with the help of private donations.
according to the ordinance, would be established to fund and support
operation, construction and maintenance of storm water facilities through a
fee schedule that will be similar to those paid by residents in cities and
excludes fees for residents who live in the county’s various conservancy
districts and already pay for stormwater management so that fees aren’t
duplicated. The districts still may be able to work with the County through
a memorandum of understanding, or MOU.
President John Evans, R-North, said that fees will be decided at a later
time once the board is established. The goal is to create more uniform fees
than the current system in which only properties that have a legal drain on
them are assessed.
“This will make it
a lot fairer to everyone,” Evans said.
Read asked the
Commissioners to keep in mind that the League is providing a flood control
mechanism to residents “for free, with no costs to the County.” The League
works to maintain a mixture of woodlands, wetlands and agriculture on
roughly 35 acres at two locations near County Line Road and is looking to
acquire another 40 acres, Read said.
overlook the monetary value these private organizations and some individuals
bring to the county,” Read said.
Mohar made similar
comments, explaining how the Shirley Heinze Land Trust uses natural
vegetation to improve water quality. She said she has studied “quite a bit”
about stormwater fees and offered to give the Commissioners more input as
they decide a fee structure.
others got up to speak, all from the Duneland area.
resident Donald Frame said he was in favor of seeing a new equitable fee
structure put into place as he is one of the farmers whose property contains
a legal drain. He also asked if the County’s current 75-foot easement
requirements on drains could be dropped to give residents the ability to
develop in those sections.
Board member and Liberty Twp. resident Ed Gutt urged the Commissioners to
include current members of the County Drainage Board as their expertise may
be valuable when it comes to improving drainage while elected officials have
other duties to attend to.
“There is a lot
more to it than saying yes or no or whatever,” he said.
He also said
municipalities should chip in to help the County with some of the drainage
work and have some say. “Water has no boundaries.”
resident Ed Seykowski, representing the Woodville Foundation, said he would
like to see every township in the county represented on the board since it
is the unincorporated areas that are being affected.
A state statute
referred to in the ordinance says that the board would be made up of the
three county commissioners and the county surveyor, or designees.
Commissioners did include in the ordinance an advisory council to the
stormwater management board, to be made up of citizens who will report on
drainage issues and proposed projects and give their recommendations to the
board, Evans said.
Blaney, D-South, said there could be places for conservation groups and
township officials on the advisory council.
Evans said after
the meeting there have been no final decisions made on the makeup of the
stormwater management board and it may co-exist with the drainage board.
management board will help “bring the County into the 21st century,” Evans
said, finding better ways to alleviate drainage so that the County does not
have to look to its county economic development income tax (CEDIT) or CCD
funds as a source of revenue.
Blaney said that
the County is mandated by law to address the requirements of the Municipal
Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit program which is administered by
the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.
will hold the second reading of the ordinance at their next meeting on Aug.