The New Kent Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission held a joint meeting on June 23 about the stormwater management program.

The New Kent Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission held a joint meeting on June 23 about the stormwater management program. (Amy Jo Martin / June 24, 2014)

NEW KENT – The stormwater management program in New Kent County will be handled in-house.

The New Kent Supervisors begrudgingly approved the state mandated stormwater ordinance Monday during a joint meeting with the planning commission.

By doing so, the county will maintain control over all of its construction projects. If the county opted to have the state maintain the program, they would not be able to control any new construction projects larger than one acre, but would still be required to enforce state mandated stormwater regulations.

According to New Kent County Planning Manager and stormwater administrator Matt Venable, by keeping all projects in-house, the county will receive 72 percent of the project fees, or an estimated $70,000-$90,000 annually, while the state would receive the other 28 percent. If the program was state mandated, the county would not get any money.

The stormwater standards will have to be followed by all construction projects. However, if the project disturbs less than one acre, the contractor will not have to have general permit coverage and related fees.

Any project that disturbs more than an acre must have general permit coverage, which will include a steep increase in engineering costs.

Although this could potentially negatively impact commercial business in New Kent, Venable does not see it being a major problem for the county, he said.

When asked what would happen if the county didn't approve a stormwater ordinance by July 1, as required by the state, County Attorney Michele Gowdy told supervisors that their existing ordinance would be out of compliance.

County Administrator Rodney Hathaway added that the state would shut down the economic development in New Kent.

Residents and commissioners alike expressed their concern about errors found in the ordinance, such as citing non-existent county codes. However, Gowdy said that commissioners could amend the document after it's approved.

"You should have been able to point out the problems yourself and not have them pointed out by a citizen who does it on their free time," said Providence Forge resident John Phelps. "You have paid staff and employees."

"I don't see how paid staff continues to present poor legislature that is not needed for New Kent," echoed Sharon Phelps.

District 4 supervisor Ron Stiers also spoke out against the ordinance and how it will negatively impact residents.

"It's just another tax to the people of the county. I don't know why this has to be done by July 1," Stiers said.

"Why don't we wait until [Venable] is certified and we get staff to go through the ordinance and fix it before we approve it?"

Fellow supervisors and commissioners voiced their displeasure with the ordinance, but admitted that they really have no choice in the matter.

"We have limited power because it's being rammed down our throats," said commissioner Michael Lane. "It's the lesser of two evils."

"At least this way, we get some money out of it."

Martin can be reached by phone at 804-885-0040.