By: Matt Musgrave, AGC/VT Government Affairs
In the most recent Buildboard magazine we discussed Vermonts Clean Water Policy otherwise known as Act 64 which was passed in 2015. A major policy shift in the act calls for changes to Vermonts “Stormwater Rule” and retroactive permitting of properties with prior exemptions from current stormwater permits if they had 3 or more acres of impervious surface permitted prior to 2002. The “3 Acre Rule” as it is known will cause some challenges and potentially create some opportunities for AGC/VT members.
The states goal of the rule change is to reduce phosphorus and other pollutants in our watersheds by either retrofitting properties without current stormwater runoff controls or provide funding via offsets paid by pre 2002 permitted properties who cannot retrofit to assist in other stormwater runoff controls within the state’s water basins. It is estimated that roughly 1,000 properties will be impacted by the “3 Acre Rule” change. Properties located within the Lake Champlain and Memphremagog basins are required to comply by 2023 and the rest of the state by 2033.
Impacted properties will include condos, commercial properties, state owned properties, parking lots and other parcels with 3 or more acres of impervious surface permitted prior to 2002. Impervious surfaces include concrete, asphalt, buildings, structures, decking, municipal/state roads and even includes gravel driveways, parking lots or paths. You may already have noticed many road projects that have included new stormwater designs and channeling of culverts.
The owners of impacted properties will be required to apply for new stormwater permits under current regulations which will include site plans and engineering for runoff controls. If engineering determines a plan for retrofitting, the property owner will be required to make those on site changes and if the engineers determine it is impossible, the owner will be expected to pay offsets to the state that will be used in other remediation projects in the area. The expected impact fees will be $25,000 per impervious acre of land per parcel. Vermonts definition of “parcel” is any contiguous or joined lots owned by the same owner. This means campuses with multiple “plats” such as UVM would have to look at their larger footprint which could trigger the rule.
This rule was debated heavily at the state house in 2018, passing in the final days of the session. The original draft was much stricter and included impact fees more than twice the agreed upon rule. There is no doubt that this will be a challenge to some of the estimated 1000 parcel owners, but it can present an opportunity for members to assist with the planning and retrofitting process.
With the deadline for the Lake Champlain and Memphremagog basins coming quickly in 2023 its time for us to think about who we can assist. Think about some of those projects that came together in the 1990s or before that you may have worked on and reach out to help. Your clients will likely appreciate the advance notice to prepare and you could end up with the retrofitting projects.
If there is anything you would like to obtain more information about please contact Matt Musgrave, Matt@agcvt.org or (802) 223-2374.