While continuing to
comply with the federal and state standards of the Municipal Separate Storm
Sewer System Program (MS4), the Porter County Stormwater Advisory Board is
looking to reduce stormwater user fees for property owners who can help
educate the public about best management practices.
Staff of the
County’s Department of Development and Stormwater Management presented a
preliminary draft Monday of a resolution of criteria that would be used when
considering lower fees, based on suggestions by board members at their
The board this past
year has approved appeals or reductions by groups like the Shirley Heinze
Land Trust that have federally protected land and allow public access. Since
then, it has talked of formally drafting a resolution for reduction
In the draft by
Department Engineer Mike Novotney, applicants would have to clearly indicate
what benefits the parcel(s) is providing to the County’s Stormwater
infrastructure. A management plan would be needed to describe what features
are protecting the stormwater system and describe how the benefits are
working. The benefits would be measured with a recordable instrument
acceptable to the Department.
The proposed draft
also states the applicant would need to tell how the property is accessible
to the public to observe the benefits being provided and plans for public
parking. If accepted, the property owners would have to post signage stating
the benefits and how they operate. The owner would not be allowed to derive
continued economic benefits from the parcel.
Novotney said the
board can give more suggestions and a resolution may be ready to vote on at
next month’s meeting, Feb. 13.
Board members Matt
Keiser and County Commissioner Jeff Good, R-Center, said they liked what is
in the draft.
“It captures a lot
of what we discussed and mulled over and if we do this it can be
incorporated it into the permit application fee,” Keiser said.
Novotney said this
will not only give the board a set of criteria with which to weigh appeals,
but also let petitioners know what the board is looking for.
“It tells the
applicant what the they need to give to us in order to consider granting a
request for reduction,” he said.
Good said that when
the County Commissioners as the Stormwater Management Board established the
stormwater user fees for unincorporated areas, they knew there would be some
follow up sometime after the program got started.
“After a year of
going through this, we learned about some best practices and some other
things that we did not incorporate into this at the time,” said Good. “Now
we have a lot more real data and good information, there are people wanting
to have a reduction in their fee because of whatever management program they
But in exchange for
reducing the fee, the Stormwater Management Board will be helped by property
owners in satisfying its MS4 requirement of educating the public about
stormwater management, Good said.
“It is something we
have to comply with. This (resolution draft) is encompassing of all that and
I like it too,” Good said.
From the audience,
former MS4 Coordinator for the Indiana Department of Environmental
Management Reggie Korthals said the board is starting “something new and
exciting” that meets the public involvement and participation and public
education and outreach requirements of the MS4 permit
“You’re going to
have something other counties are going to want to use,” she said.
Scott Severson, who
was elected board president at the start of Monday’s meeting, said he would
like the board to learn about the MS4 requirements. The County’s MS4
Coordinator Rich Hudson will make a presentation at a future meeting.
Izaak Walton hall
In other business,
the board granted permission for the Izaak Walton League Miller Chapter to
rebuild their meeting hall and other property improvements in a County
regulated drainage easement with the conditions that it acquires the right
permits from environmental agencies and the City of Portage.
Homeier of McMahon and Associates said the original building was lost in a
fire a half a year ago and the new building will be about 600 sq. ft.
smaller. The address is at 1269 Crisman Rd. in Portage.
The chapter is also
adding new landscaping to filter stormwater before it drains into the ditch
of the Burns Waterway, an arm of the Little Calumet River, and resurfacing
the parking lot.
The board approved
the request with a hold harmless agreement that the County would not be
responsible for any damages occurring within the drainage easement. The
easement is entirely within the Portage City Limits but Portage has decided
not to acquire it from the County, County Surveyor Kevin Breitzke said.
Good said the
Stormwater Board has begun talks with cities and towns about cooperatively
managing the streams and ditches that cross the boundaries from the County’s
unincorporated areas into municipal limits.
“We are trying our
best to smooth those out so everyone has their own jurisdiction,” he said.
“We want to get everybody in the right jurisdiction and everybody taking
care of their ditches that run through their cities and towns so there will
be a lot of memorandums of understandings with cities and towns to do the
work as we see it.”
Also Monday, the
board granted NIPSCO permission to access county drainage easements to
complete installation of fiber optic line on existing electrical towers at
two locations along Babcock Rd.
One is at the
Gustafson Ditch near the Old Porter Rd. intersection in Westchester Twp. and
the one farther south is at the Swanson-Lamporte Ditch near the Toll Rd. in
Liberty Twp., Novotney said.