Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Bill to gut MS4 review authority remains in play

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By KEVIN NEVERS

A bill which would significantly impede the review and enforcement authority of MS4 programs remains in play in the General Assembly.

So Chesterton MS4 Operator Jennifer Gadzala reported to the Stormwater Management Board at its meeting Monday night.

H.B. 1266--authored by State Rep. Doug Miller, R-Elkhart--was passed by the House on Feb. 5, 68 votes to 27, and forwarded to the Senate. On Feb. 27 it was referred on first reading to the Senate Committee on Environmental Affairs.

The bill is somewhat less onerous on amendment than it was as drafted by Miller. In its original form, H.B. 1266 would have required MS4 departments to complete a preliminary review of a builder’s Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) within 48 hours of its being submitted. As amended, MS4 departments must complete their review of a SWPPPP “before the end of the fifth working day after the day” on which the SWPPP was submitted.

Still, Gadzala told the board, even five working days are far too short a window in which to adquately review a SWPPP.

More: under the older version of the bill, once an MS4 department had conclusively approved a builder’s SWPPP, it could not stop work on the grounds that the erosion and sediment control measures detailed in the SWPPP are inadequate.

As amended, an MS4 department may stop work after approving a builder’s SWPPP, but only after notifying the builder in writing of inadequacies in the erosion and sedimental control measures, and only after the builder fails to resolve those inadequacies within 72 hours of receiving written notification.

It’s hard to escape the conclusion, President Tom Kokpo suggested, that the bill’s intention is to gut MS4 authority.

“There’s a big drive from the ag community to push this through,” Gadzala noted. “A lot of MS4 communities have been talking to Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes, about it. So she’s very familiar with what’s being modified.

Gadzala added that the Hoosier Environmental Council has taken a strong position against H.B. 1266.

For the record, the bill’s author, State Rep. Miller--according to his official website--is managing partner of Tailor Made Homes LLC and owner of Creekside Realty LLC and White Pines Properties LLC, is seated on the Board of Directors of the Builders Association of Elkhart County, and holds a life membership in the Indiana Builders Association.

H.B. 477

Meanwhile, a bill which would, if enacted, have significantly cut the town’s stormwater fee revenues by exempting churches and schools appears to be dead in the water, Gadzala said.

H.B. 477 has been in committee since Jan. 15 and has not moved, she said. “I don’t see this one going anywhere at this point.”

For the record, enactment of H.B. 477 would have resulted in the loss of approximately $27,800 in annual revenues: $4,300 from churches and another $23,000 from the Duneland School Corporation, the latter of which is the Stormwater Utility’s largest customer.

Sign of Spring

In other business, Street Commissioner John Schnadenberg reported that the Street Department’s two street sweepers will soon be re-commissioned for spring cleaning duties.

February in Review

In February the Stormwater Utility ran a surplus of $22,031 and in the year-to-date is running a deposit of $26,863.

 

 

Posted 3/19/2019

 
 
 
 

 

 

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