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North Carolina Loosens Stormwater Rules for Developers

RALEIGH, North Carolina, July 17, 2008 (ENS) – A package of compromise coastal stormwater rules is headed to the desk of North Carolina Governor Mike Easley after the state House passed them Monday night.

The state Senate has already passed the measure, and the governor is expected to sign it.

The new legislation will replace rules adopted earlier this year by the state Environmental Management Commission designed to control pollution caused by runoff that would have taken effect on August 1..

The new measure will apply to 20 counties along the North Carolina coast.

It will make pockets of low-density development acceptable without triggering provisions of the rules. Developers will be allowed to create an additional 10,000 feet of “impervious surface,” such as roofs or parking lots, before the rules take effect.

Developers have to contain a smaller amount of runoff than the Environmental Management Commission rules called for. The original rules required developers to control runoff resulting from 3.5 inches of rain in residential developments.

Now they will be required to control only the first 1.5 inches of rain.

Some exemptions from buffer requirements will be allowed under the compromise rules.

The newly approved rules allow for exclusions of projects that have already received state and local permits. Existing homes and businesses could also be replaced without having to comply with the new rules.

The Environmental Management Commission rules did not permit these exclusions.

The new measure retains the commission’s original proposal that developers who have an impervious surface exceeding 12 percent of the property must install runoff controls such as cisterns, ponds, and rain gardens and rainwater collection.

If signed by the governor, the newly passed compromise rules will take effect on October 1.

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