The Porter County
Department of Development and Stormwater Management hopes to grant
reductions to four sets of parcels owned by the Izaak Walton League Porter
County Chapter but said it will need a timeline to meet the appeal
Stormwater Management Board, Stormwater Management Engineer Mike Novotney
said more information has been received from the League, a 501c3
organization dedicated to land conservation and preservation, since the
appeal to waive or reduce the fee was first heard in August. The Board then
asked about what public access these parcels offer, as that is part of the
criteria to satisfy the requirements of the federally mandated Municipal
Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4).
Novotney said he
would be ready to recommend a user fee rate of $1.40 per acre per year on
three of the parcel sets that already have a conservation easement on them
-- the Bedenkop Family Spring Run Woodlands property at 1167 North CR 575E,
the Frame property at 1288 N. County Line Rd. and another the League owns
near 1100 North on County Line Rd. in Pine Twp.
properties contain some form of public access and potential areas for public
parking, Novotney said. The department can work with the League on putting
up signage to educate visitors on how the water is being naturally treated
on site, he said.
The other parcel
discussed is known as the “Carol Cook” property in the 500 E area of Burdick
Rd. Novotney said the recommendation from the department currently is to
keep the fee at $120 per year, the residential rate for a home site less
than ten acres.
Novotney said the
League has provided a site narrative for potential site benefits but “we
wonder about the timeline for the implementation of those improvements and
the appropriate time of which to grant a reduction in the stormwater fee.”
The department could grant the reduction once it has received the timeline,
The $1.40 per acre
is what Novotney calls the “conservation rate,” which is a reduction of the
$2.75 per acre user fee charged to agriculture properties. The reduced rate
is what the stormwater management board has granted to conservation groups
like the Shirley Heinze Land Trust, which demonstrated its conservation
easements and ways the public can access their property.
Izaak Walton League
Vice-President Gary Allen and one of its directors, Donald Frame, said they
were surprised that the Cook property would be the one in question since
that’s the parcel that’s “easiest to fix.” By May, the League hopes to have
a pathway to an elevated walkway and an observation platform overlooking the
wetland. Frame said they have a permit to put in a driveway and have room
for about ten cars.
properties have featured recent public events, Allen said. On the Frame
property, 4-H groups, as well as Scouts, have been out and there is a
birding festival planned for this spring.
Prior to the
discussion, the board voted on a formal resolution to recommend to the full
Stormwater Management Board, consisting of the three County Commissioners
and County Surveyor Kevin Breitzke, establishing criteria for an appeal
A summary of what
applicants would need to submit for an appeal, according to the resolution:
-- A written
narrative clearly describing the benefits the parcel is providing to the
-- A site plan
-- A written
management plan describing activities of how to maintain and enhance
-- Description of
how the benefits would be protected in perpetuity. The protections would
need to be an acceptable instrument.
-- The parcel must
be accessible to the public.
-- Parking for the
public must be on the property and have linkage for the public to observe
the benefits of the stormwater management.
displayed that would illustrate or describe the features benefiting the
stormwater system. Other signage would need to provide hours of when the
public can access the property or observe stormwater benefits.
-- The parcel must
not provide direct benefits to the parcel owner. This would include farming,
grazing, selling or leasing).
Board member Matt
Keiser asked Allen and Frame if they had a chance to see the new list. They
said they hadn’t and would be willing to submit more information if the full
board does approve the resolution, which would be as early as Feb. 21.
“It sounds like
only one or two things that you will need to qualify,” Keiser said.
“I concur with what
you are saying. We would like to review that and would request a
continuance,” Frame said.
Novotney said that
what the League has turned in is “very good” so far and “exciting.” He said
the timeline is the main thing needed for implementation, along with a
description of how the Cook property would be protected in perpetuity since
it currently does not have a conservation easement.
Scott Severson commended the department staff on its work on the appeals
resolution. “I think it’s a great first step,” he said.
The resolution will
serve as a guideline for both the stormwater board and the appellant so
there will be more transparency, Novotney said, as well as helping the
“It means its
involving the public in mitigating increased stormwater rates, volumes and
pollutant loads. It will help educate the public on the benefits of
preservation and restoration and smart stormwater management,” he said.
The board tabled
the League’s appeal as well as request from the Woodland Savanna Land
Conservancy which owns a 13-acre island property in Long Lake near 600 N. in
Liberty Twp. The Conservancy wishes to combine the two parcels under one fee
instead of two.