More than 500 York County residents sign petition opposing stormwater authority

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch
York County Planning Commission Director Felicia Dell presents information during a public meeting at the York Learning Center regarding the proposed York County Stormwater Authority on Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018. The purpose of the meeting was to allow the general public to discuss the implementation plan for the authority. Bill Kalina photo

Supervisors in Lower Chanceford Township are nervous about a proposed countywide stormwater authority, so they brought their concerns to the York County commissioners at a recent meeting.

David Glenn, chairman of the township's board of supervisors, joined supervisor Alan Taylor and township zoning officer Sue Wiley at the board of commissioners' Wednesday, Dec. 5, meeting to submit a petition signed by more than 500 people who oppose the creation of an authority.

Vice-chairman James Parlett Jr. was unable to attend, but his name was listed on a letter that was submitted with the petition.

The petition signers are residents of Lower Chanceford, Chanceford and Peach Bottom townships and Delta.

"York County Planning Commission has worked very hard on this for a long time — we know that," Glenn said in his comments to the board. "And they have well-educated us about the problem and their plan for a solution."

The only problem, Glenn said, is that Lower Chanceford Township disagrees with the planning commission's proposal to form an authority.

Glenn, who read portions of an open letter aloud at the meeting, said the township is worried about losing local control over stormwater management and about the authority increasing fee amounts to pay for an unknown number of future projects.

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County response: President Commissioner Susan Byrnes thanked Glenn for being engaged in the process and bringing his concerns to the board, but she questioned whether township residents have the resources to manage stormwater on their own.

Supervisor Alan Taylor said any resident who applies for a building permit must consult with the township engineer to ensure that the township's stormwater ordinance is being followed.

Township zoning officer Sue Wiley added that any building project that exceeds 5,000 square feet must be approved by the township engineer, and that for any project that falls below the 5,000 square-foot threshold, Wiley does the inspection herself.

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"They’re not just going to tell us that, 'Oh, well we’re going to do this' or 'We’re going to do that,'" Wiley said. "We follow through and make sure that it has been done."

Byrnes said that because the stormwater problem is a countywide issue, all 72 municipalities will need to come together to address the issue.

"The stormwater authority is not a done deal," Byrnes said. "We are still investigating. We are still reaching out."

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Response: Felicia Dell, director of the York County Planning Commission, said Wednesday, Dec. 5, that the planning commission appreciates the concerns of Lower Chanceford Township, but she said some of the information in the township's statement is inaccurate.

In particular, Dell said the planning commission is not proposing a new stormwater ordinance to supersede local municipal control.

Instead,  the commission's proposal is to form an authority that would collect a countywide fee and then coordinate with other agencies, such as the conservation district, to best leverage that revenue to help the county better meet current state and federal regulations.

Dell said the planning commission has studied every alternative and found that a countywide authority would be the most affordable and least burdensome avenue.

"It’s our best option for maintaining local control and setting our own agenda in the face of new pressures from environmental regulators outside the county," she said.

Over the course of the winter season, Dell said the planning commission will hold a series of work sessions with representatives from municipalities and from the county's agricultural community to continue gathering input and discussing water quality requirements.