Southwest Wake News

Fuquay-Varina puts stormwater responsibilities on developers

Whether they install a retention pond or educate homeowners, it will be up to developers to pay for methods to keep stormwater runoff from affecting the water supply.

Under a new town ordinance, developers must also hire site inspectors and pay for reviews, a move that raised questions from Fuquay-Varina Commissioners about oversight and aging water systems.

Once completed, developers will turn over the systems to homeowners associations, which will be responsible for maintenance and annual inspections.

“Are we going to have problems with stormwater in three or four years from now? No,” said Commissioner Ed Ridpath. “Where we are going to have problems is when systems that are 20 years old jam up. Then, the town is the bad guy when we say you need to put in a new one and the HOA says they can’t afford it.”

The town has a similar problem with private roads taken over by Fuquay-Varina, Ridpath said.

“I think this long-term view is one I have concerns about,” he said. “I’d like to see that we lay out a proactive approach, especially with informing the HOAs about their responsibility, liability.”

The new stormwater ordinance was created and adopted in response to increased permitting requirements by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency.

Towns around North Carolina are passing similar ordinances that put the burden on developers to install site controls and other measures, called best management practices or BMPs, to keep stormwater runoff from the water supply.

The water-quality devices will be inspected annually from a third-party reviewer who will submit a report to the town, said Tracy Stephenson, Fuquay-Varina’s engineer.

Mayor John Byrne questioned whether it would be possible for the inspections to be done in-house. A system of third-party inspectors might lack oversight.

“Let’s say the guy doesn’t do what he’s supposed to. Is there any fallback?” Byrne asked.

The town doesn’t have enough staff members to do the inspections in-house, and it would be expensive to hire more, Stephenson.

Other towns such as Morrisville charge developers a fee to help pay for the stormwater inspection program, education and site repairs.

In Fuquay-Varina, leaders said it made the most sense to let a third party do the initial inspections and submit their reports to the town.

Town staff will also do spot checks periodically on sites to make sure the reports are accurate.

“The majority of communities across the state are using (this) model as standard,” said Town Manager Adam Mitchell. “To my knowledge there isn’t an issue that has arisen from that.”

Under the ordinance, Fuquay-Varina will also have the ability to implement a special tax district as a fail-safe in case the HOA doesn’t meet its obligation and the town has to pay for the repairs.