Eastern Wake News

Wendell leaders give developers some slack on stormwater requirements

The Town Board here recently loosened stormwater rules required for new developments and redeveloped property, and further fine-tuned those rules for certain types of small residential projects.

The changes give developers more options to achieve classification as a low-impact development project. By satisfying certain requirements and becoming an LID, a project can gain exemption from a stormwater rule forbidding nitrogen export, which deals with water quality.

The changes also brought an end to the nitrogen export limits on “residential infill development” – those projects that are smaller than 20 acres and that don’t have 10 or more acres of undeveloped land adjacent to them.

“They still need to meet pre-development and post-development runoff requirements, which deal with water quantity,” said town planner Patrick Reidy.

The planning board split 5-3 in November in favor of an amended plan that included included a reduction on the minimum number of LID requirements, from two to one, but still kept a minimum requirement of two rain barrels on the list of options for residential projects to achieve LID status. As written, the barrels would have to be kept on site for two years.

After hearing feedback from the Town Board in December, planning staff returned with alternatives to the planning board’s recommendation on Jan. 9.

Town planners said the smaller, residential infill projects would have a hard time absorbing the cost and meeting parcel size requirements to satisfy the town’s stormwater rules.

“Right now, if you don’t meet that nitrogen (limit) of 3.6, you have to implement two additional standards from this list … which goes into things like retaining 50 percent or more of vegetated area, using permeable pavement, vegetated roofs, water reclamation systems,” Planning Director David Bergmark told the board. “And some of these items, whether it is commercial or residential … it’s just not going to be a practical alternative.”

The approved option, which staff had recommended, upheld the planning board’s recommendation to lower the LID requirements from two to one.

It also removed rain barrels as a possible LID requirement for residential development – instead adding tree-box filters, driveway runners in lieu of fully-paved driveways, and stormwater redirection systems as LID options.

“I felt just to cut the rain barrel option, which was an issue for us last time,” Commissioner Jon Lutz said in making a motion. “This still requires some extra small things that can be done, just to help.

Rain cisterns were left as an option for nonresidential uses.