Chesterton Tribune



Bill which would have gutted MS4 authority toughened on amendment

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Legislation which could have had the effect of stripping an MS4 department of much of its authority to address inadequate sediment and erosion control measures on construction sites has been toughened somewhat on amendment.

As Associate Town Attorney Chuck Parkinson reported at the Chesterton Stormwater Management Board’s meeting Tuesday night, the amended version of H.B. 1266--authored by State Rep. Dough Miller, R-Elkhart--was passed by the House on Feb. 5., 68 votes to 27, and referred to the Senate.

As originally written by Miller, 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, a significantly accelerated time frame than the maximum 28-day window used by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

As amended, MS4 departments must complete their review of a SWPPP “before the end of the fifth working day after the day” on which the SWPPP was submitted.

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 sediment control measures, and only after the builder fails to resolve those inadequacies within 72 hours of receiving written notification.

For the record, State Rep. Miller is--according to his official website--managing partner of Tailor Made Homes LLL 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

Parkinson also directed the board’s attention to legislation which would, if enacted, have a hefty impact on the revenues of the town’s MS4 Utility: S.B. 477, authored by State Sen. Jack Sandlin, R-Indianapolis.

Specifically, S.B. 477 would prohibit stormwater utilities from collecting user fees from properties used for religious services and from school corporations.

Enactment of S.B. 477, as Stormwater Utility Superintendent Mark O’Dell noted, would result in the loss of approximately $27,800 in annual revenues: $4,300 from churches, according to his calculations, and another $23,000 from the Duneland School Corporation, the latter of which is the Stormwater Utility’s largest customer.

Parkinson reminded the board that before the stormwater user fee was first enacted in Chesterton, in 2005, the board did discuss the possibility of exempting churches and schools but opted not to do so.

Should the S.B. 477 pass, O’Dell said, “We’ll probably have to do a rate study for 2020-21.”

Parkinson did tell the board that it’s not time to panic yet. The bill was referred to the Senate Utilities Committee on Jan. 15 and appears to be languishing there.

January in Review

In January the Stormwater Utility ran a surplus of $3,832.





Posted 2/21/2019




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