Officials mull stormwater fee passage in twp.

November 6, 2019 Cranberry Local News

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CRANBERRY TWP — A stormwater management fee, which would be levied on nearly all properties in the township beginning in 2020, will be considered for passage when the supervisors meet Thursday.

The fee, which would charge the owner of each residential structure $3 per month beginning in 2020 and $6 per month starting in 2021, is designed to fund the capital and operating expenses to comply with state and federal environmental regulations with respect to stormwater.

Nonresidential properties will be assessed a fee based on how much impervious surface there is on the lot compared to the average residential unit.

“We ... take that average, and that creates a piece of the pie, or the equivalent residential unit,” Jason Kratsas, director of engineering and environmental services, said. “And when we go to those non-residential properties, we see how many pieces of pie they have, then they pay that equivalent amount.”

Kratsas said at the Oct. 30 agenda preparation meeting that the proposed fee starts out at a lower amount to ease the burden on and get landowners familiar with the fee. Additionally, he said, the fee in 2020 will fund only capital improvements, while in later years it would fund operating expenses.

A preliminary budget projected the cost of the MS4 program to be $800,000 in capital improvements and $850,000 in operating expenses, Kratsas said.

Supervisors Chairman Richard Hadley added he thought a fee was the most equitable way to handle the increased costs. Otherwise, he said, the township would have to raise taxes or cut services.

The township discussed the proposed fee at a previous agenda preparation meeting, an open house for residents and a general authority meeting.

One resident commented on the proposal, saying he thinks this isn't the most equitable way to handle these increased costs.

“I live in a homeowners association, and we already pay to have retention ponds put into place, we're already paying to have them inspected and we're already maintaining them,” Stuart Hammerschmidt said. “Therefore, by definition of the stormwater law, we're already managing our own stormwater.”

He proposed two ways he believed it could be more equitable: the township take over the HOA's ponds or charge a lower fee to those who are “managing their stormwater.”

Public hearing

Supervisors also conducted three public hearings, each without comment from the public.

The first involved revisions to the Eagle Ridge development off Ehrman Road. Developers proposed removing streetlights from most of the neighborhood to comply with a new ordinance and to convert a rain garden in a cul-de-sac into grass.

The second involved facade changes to an indoor dog park on Rochester Road. A third hearing involved an amendment to an ordinance, which would change the signature blocks.

Those items will be considered at the Nov. 7 meeting with the opportunity for further public input.

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Alex Weidenhof

Alex Weidenhof