Sat04192014

Last updateTue, 04 Nov 2014 9pm

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Building permits back on track in CB

Colonial Beach offered temporary agreement with Westmoreland County

Town staff has been trying to iron out details to comply with new mandates concerning soil erosion and sediment control measures that were put in place prior to March of 2012.

Changes occurred when the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) combined the Chesapeake Bay Act, the Erosion and Sedimentation Control Program (ESC) and the Stormwater Management Program

over a year ago.

Colonial Beach builders were notified that as of April 1, the town could not issue full building permits for any construction project requiring the disturbance of soil of 2,500 or more sq. ft. The town has now been offered a temporary solution by Westmoreland County, allowing builders to once again obtain full permits from the CB Building and Zoning Office.

Last year, on March 19, 2012, the Chesapeake Bay Local Assistance Board passed a resolution, finding that CB’s Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act Program did not fully comply with Chesapeake Bay Act regulations.
The DCR notified the town shortly after, that it was currently non-compliant, due to the lack of an appropriate and current Erosion and Sediment Control Program.  An ESC program sets the rules for builders to follow to avoid erosion of land while soil is being disturbed during construction projects, and to ensure that chemicals don’t runoff into waterways that could reach drinking water supplies.

Even though they could, the DRC would not impose fines at the time, but the town had a December 31, 2012 deadline to comply with the mandate by updating the ESC program.

The town ultimately updated their Erosion and Sediment Control Program. However, indecision from the council prevented the town from hiring a qualified individual to carry out the program, or to come to an agreement with Westmoreland County to utilize their inspector more than on a part-time basis.

At the March 2013 council work session, Building and Zoning Director Gary Mitchel told council that as of April 1, the Town of CB could no longer issue building permits that proposed to increase an impervious area larger than 36%, OR that disturbed more than 2,500 square feet of soil. This put many potential building project in the town on hold

Mitchel also told the council that earlier in March, the town had been contacted by R. V’lent Lassiter, Principal Environmental Planner for the VA Department of Conservation & Recreation. Lassiter said in an email that, without an employee to oversee the program, the town had not developed a program consistent with Virginia state requirements, and the program could not be submitted for review to the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board.

Lassiter also said stated that, “The Town does not have authority to review and approve erosion and sediment control plans at this time, and therefore must submit all ESC plans to Westmoreland County until they have a program adopted by the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board. Staff recommends that the Town be granted an extension until September 30, to develop an ESC program, and submit it for review to the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board.”

On April 1, notices were sent out to all known builders who work in Colonial Beach, stating that builders would be required by the town to seek a portion of their permits at the Building and Zoning office in Colonial Beach. The builders were then instructed to proceed to Westmoreland County Land Use Office for environmental permits and approval.

During the March council work session, Town Manager Val Foulds was finally given solid direction from the council to pursue an agreement with the County of Westmoreland to use their inspector.

Foulds sent out a request to Westmoreland County requesting the county assist them with implementation of the Erosion and Sediment Control, as well as other stormwater management programs for an unspecified period of time.

Westmoreland County had previously explained that in order to help the town, the two localities would have to enter into a memorandum of understanding. It was also stated that the county did not have the resources to continue the agreement for an extended period of time.

 

Rasavi proposes a solution
Westmoreland County Administrator Norm Rasavi replied on April 15, saying, “There is not yet a memorandum of understanding between the town and the county in place to achieve this purpose [to assist the town]. It will likely be some time before such, and before the understanding has been approved by both governments. During this time, development and enforcement of codes in the town will be delayed, unless a way can be found to allow for the necessary permit reviews.”

Rasavi has proposed a temporary solution. He suggested that CB Building and Zoning should accept all necessary applications and paperwork, and to collect all the appropriate fees, bonds and other material for the development review.

The town will then issue such approvals, decisions and permits as provided under its ordinances, and keep all required records related to these actions.

Rasavi then said the county will provide the town with appropriate staff to assist them with plan, review, inspections, enforcement and program administration, as needed.

The county will document its travel expenses and the time spent by its staff assisting the town, including travel time, and will invoice the Town of CB on a monthly basis for the expenses and time.

Foulds said in a phone interview, that by collecting all the paperwork and funds at the CB office, and having a county inspector come to the Beach to review and approve the permits, the town will eliminate the possibility of losing paperwork, and the process will be more convenient for the builders seeking permits.

Westmoreland County has not given a schedule disclosing how often their inspector will come to the Beach but this eliminates the need for builders to go to the County Seat for portions of their permits.

Linda Farneth

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