Chesterton Tribune



Stormwater Board bemused by bill authored by Elkhart legislator builder

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If an Indiana legislator sat down to write a bill whose specific perverse purpose were to increase the likelihood of stormwater runoff pollution at a construction site, it might look a lot like this: H.B. 1266, authored by State Rep. Doug Miller, R-Elkhart.

H.B. 1266 was the topic of some discussion at Monday’s meeting of the Chesterton Stormwater Management Board, whose members expressed a certain befuddlement at what the bill’s point might be, if its point isn’t actually to make it super easy for developers and builders to sidestep and dodge a municipal MS4 department’s enforcement of sediment and erosion control regulations.

According to his official website, Rep. Miller 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 directorship in the Indiana Builders Association.

Miller’s bill would do the following:

* Prohibit an MS4 department from requiring sediment and erosion control measures more stringent than those imposed by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. As Gadzala observed, IDEM currently gives MS4 departments the flexibility to customize erosion and sediment control regulations for their specific topography, geology, and terrain. Even so, she doesn’t believe that Chesterton’s MS4 program currently requires any measures more stringent than IDEM’s.

* Require that an MS4 department complete its 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 IDEM. “That seems like an awfully short period of time,” President Tom Kopko suggested. “It’s an extremely short period of time,” Gadzala concurred, then added that, in principle only, under H.B. 1266 a builder could break ground well before an MS department has even finished reviewing the sufficiency of what are frequently very complex plans. On the other hand, Town Engineer Mark O’Dell noted, “whether the bill is enacted or not,” SWPPP permits are not the same as building permits nor are they the same as primary plat approvals, and that in Chesterton SWPPP review is baked into a much more comprehensive process.

* Require that the person reviewing an SWPPP be a registered professional engineer, architect, or surveyor. IDEM already mandates SWPPP reviewers to be “trained individuals,” experienced in the principles of stormwater quality including erosion and sediment control. Registered professional engineers, architects, and surveyors per se, however, may not have the same degree of training.

* And forbid an MS4 department which has approved a builder’s SWPPP from issuing a stop-work order if it proves that the erosion and sediment control measures provided by that SWPPP are inadequate. “Then why bother?” Kopko wondered. “Exactly,” O’Dell said.

MS4 Operator Jennifer Gadzala conceded on Monday that different MS4 communities administer their programs differently and implement different schedules of non-compliance fines. But she wondered whether a statewide blanket fiat is the best way to address the issue of variability.

Gadzala did say that Miller introduced substantially the same bill in last year’s session of the General Assembly and that it failed to make it out of committee. She was unable to say what its status is now but promised to keep the board apprised.

2018 in Review

In other business, the Stormwater Utility ran a surplus in 2018 of $105,681, compared to a projected surplus of $108.

Included in the year’s financials was a $102,062 payment on the stormwater bond issued in 2011, of which $6,031 was interest.

2019 Officers

Meanwhile, members re-elected Kopko president, Paul Stopko vice-president, and Clerk-Treasurer Stephanie Kuziela secretary.

And Gadzala introduced the Stormwater Utility’s newly hired MS4 Engineer, Kacie Kolbert, who graduated Purdue Northwest University in December and began work in town on Jan. 8.



Posted 1/22/2019




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