City Council to Consider Extension of Stormwater Mitigation Fee Program

The Charlotte City Council could vote next month on the extension of a program that allows developers to pay a mitigation fee instead of constructing costly on-site storm water management systems — and one that can pay big dividends for urban redevelopment.

First adopted in 2011, the Post-Construction Controls Ordinance (PCCO) Mitigation Fee program is aimed at helping developers of small commercial sites by allowing them to contribute to the cost of public offsite improvements rather than installing onsite systems such as retention ponds, which often must be located underground because of site constraints. The fees collected ($60,000 for the first acre, $90,000 for each additional acre) are used by the City to make system improvements within the same basin as the development, from stream bank restoration to the purchase of private property in floodplains.

The program was adopted with a sunset provision of April 30, 2014, and city staff would like to see it extended for another 5 years. But because of a new state law that makes it more difficult for local governments to adopt environmental regulation, Council must give its unanimous consent for the initiative to continue.

Under the Regulatory Reform Act of 2013, which the General Assembly passed last July, a local government may not pass any environmental ordinance that regulates an area already regulated by DENR or the EPA unless it has unanimous approval of its governing body. This requirement is in place until October 2013, to allow a study committee to evaluate whether pre-emption of local environmental regulation is an effective tool for economic development.

The issue will be taken up by City Council’s Environment Committee on Wednesday, April 2nd, and will go to the full Council by the middle of the month. REBIC supports the Mitigation Fee-in-Lieu program as a way to encourage infill redevelopment, and will continue to with with City Council and staff to ensure it’s reauthorization.

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