Mid-Atlantic Stormwater Regs Slowed by Builder Backlash

Proposed regulations that would require changes in the way builders and developers manage stormwater runoff have hit a snag in the coastal states of Maryland and Virginia, news sources report. In Maryland, where new rules requiring " Environmental Site Design" are set to take effect in May, a standing-room-only crowd packed a hearing room at the state Department of the Environment as builders and developers pressured regulators to back off on implementation of the new policy, The Baltimore Sun reports (" New Md. rules on storm runoff assailed," by Timothy B. Wheeler). Michael Powell, an attorney representing the Maryland State Builders Association, called on the agency to grandfather all projects already in the permitting pipeline, and to make the rules more flexible. And opponents of the new policy also vowed to take their case to the legislature, the Sun reports: "Del. Maggie McIntosh, chair of the House Environmental Matters Committee, sat in on the forum, as did several other legislators. Despite assurances from environmental officials that they'll consider adjusting the regulations in response to the complaints, the Baltimore Democrat said she expected the General Assembly would move to ensure that the storm-water measure doesn't cause unintended consequences." Sun reporter Tim Wheeler adds more detail in this blog post at the paper's website (" Storm over storm-water rules”). State officials told Wheeler that existing projects will already be grandfathered under the policy, he says, and they also argued that "there's plenty of flexibility already built into the new rules, though they require different techniques than developers are accustomed to using." In Virginia, meanwhile, new stormwater regulations adopted under the administration of Democratic former Governor Timothy Kaine are being suspended, the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot reports (" Panel puts hold on new rules for stormwater," by Scott Harper). "Last week, a state panel voted to put those rules on hold, citing petitions from more than 25 developers and builders concerned about the timing and extent of the new stormwater program," the paper reports. "It was the second time in four months that the Virginia Board of Soil and Water Conservation had approved, and then tabled, the complex set of regulations, which so far have taken more than four years to craft." The board's decision means the rule proposal will now go back into the public comment and review process, the Virginian-Pilot reports. And, notes the paper, "It also means the rules will require the signature of [newly elected Republican] Gov. Bob McDonnell, who has been critical of the stormwater limits in the past and has pledged to encourage economic growth by lessening regulations on business and industry."