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Ferguson Township Supervisors Approve New Storm Water Management Ordinance

by on August 19, 2014 7:10 AM

The Ferguson Township Board of Supervisors passed an update to the township's storm water management ordinance on Monday, but the legislation will still be subject to debate and amendment.

Township Manager Mark Kunkle told the board that they were on a tight deadline for passing the ordinance. As part of a permit the township receives on an annual basis from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, they were required to update their storm water management processes by the end of August.

“Given this past summer’s torrential downpours, I think we can all recognize the importance of storm water management in the Centre area,” Kunkle said. 

During public comment on the ordinance, John Sepp of PennTerra Engineering Inc. said that while “95 percent of this ordinance is fine as it’s written,” certain aspects of the ordinance raise concerns.

Part of the ordinance requires storm water facilities – including basins and easements – to be located on a separate lot from other property. Sepp pointed out that many residential developments in the townships have adjoining backyards with drainage easements that run between them.

If these easements were rezoned into their own lots operated by homeowner associations, Sepp said it would impact the size of existing residential lots and lead to the loss of up to four acres of land in various developments. This also raised questions of who would mow and maintain these newly created lots.

Sepp also raised concerns about the proposed depth of storm water basins. The ordinance as written reduces the max depth of basins from 36 to 18 inches in an effort to decrease the likelihood of sinkholes.

In order to compensate for this reduced depth, Sepp said basins might have to be given increased width – which would also impede on existing residential lots.

“I think we’re going to end up with much larger basins,” Sepp said. “It’s very questionable if this will be successful in avoiding sinkholes.”

In order to meet the DEP’s deadline, Board Chairman Dick Mascalo said that these concerns would be addressed at another meeting. Sepp said that PennTerra would be glad to work with the board to find an agreeable solution to these concerns.

The board then passed its 2015-2019 Capital Improvement Plan, which Kunkle described as a planning document that will help shape next year’s operating budget. With projected township revenue of over $75 million, it anticipates more than enough funds to complete various public works projects and provide for several new township employee positions.

The board also took a number of steps to ensure a healthy diversity of trees in the township. The board created a tree commission and approved a list of trees that will resist disease in the hopes of reducing tree replacement costs.  

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Michael Martin Garrett is a reporter and editor for who covers local government, the courts, the arts and writes the Keeping the Faith column. He's a Penn State alumnus, a published poet and the bassist in a local indie rock band.
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