Proposed York County stormwater agency could mean new fees for businesses

Felicia Dell, director of the York County Planning Commission, outlines what a stormwater agency could do for York County. - (Photo / Emily Thurlow)

A proposed new agency in York County could cost businesses a hefty annual fee.

In an effort to address chronic flooding and water pollution, the York County Planning Commission is considering the creation of a stormwater authority.

The commission held the second of three public information sessions on the topic at the York Learning Center on Tuesday night. During the meeting, the commission and its consultant, Baltimore-based JMT,  an employee-owned architectural/engineering company, outlined the future authority’s functions and operations.

According to sign-in sheets collected by the commission, at least 145 people were in attendance, said Lindsay Gerner, senior planner for the planning commission.

 

Courtesy of the York County Planning Commission

Under a current working model for the new agency, the total annual operating budget woould be $12.65 million.

The authority would work to reduce pollution from entering local waterways that flow into the Susquehanna River and the Chesapeake Bay. Approximately 1,100 miles of streams in York County have been identified as not meeting water-quality standards and there are many miles of streams left to test, said Felicia Dell, director of the planning commission. 

As part of a cleanup plan coordinated by Pennsylvania and neighboring states, York County must reduce the amount of nitrogen and phosphorous that flows into the Susquehanna River from its waterways, said Dell. If the county doesn’t work to reduce pollution, different laws and penalties could be imposed, she added.

The authority would also work to combat flooding. The commission has already identified 215 locations on roads that experience recurrent flooding.

To tackle both issues, Dell said, the new authority would invest in flood- and pollution-reduction projects throughout the county. They would include stream restoration along waterways and erosion-control measures. 

To assist in those endeavors, the commission has proposed that all property owners in York County – residential, agricultural and commercial/industrial – pay a yearly fee of $48.90. Commercial/industrial properties include apartments, industrial and utility parcels.

Agricultural property owners would also be required to pay an additional $9 per “tillable” acre on their parcels. Commercial/industrial property owners would be required to pay an additional $0.01205 per square foot of impervious area, including roof areas, parking lots, driveways and other surfaces that contribute to stormwater runoff because they do not absorb rainwater.

A hypothetical commercial parcel with a taxable area of 2.76 acres, and includes roughly 26,013 square feet of impervious surfaces, for example, would pay an additional $313.46 a year, according to the commission.  

Under the current proposal, agricultural property owners have the opportunity to eradicate the additional fee if they have adopted conservation plans or installed a combination of best management practice. Commercial/industrial property owners, however, would be able to reduce their additional fee by only 50 percent by implementing best practices, such as pervious pavement or rain gardens.

Following the initial presentation, attendees were split into groups to address property-specific items, including how the fee would impact individual property owners: residential, commercial, agricultural, industrial.

The planning commission intends to present its recommendations to the York County Board of Commissioners for a vote in early 2019. Prior to that, the commission will hold a final public information session on Thursday, Nov. 8 at the York Learning Center.

For more information, visit yorkstormwater.com.

Emily Thurlow
​Emily Thurlow covers York County​ for the Central Penn Business Journal. Have a tip? Drop her a line at ethurlow@cpbj.com.

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