Town Council thanks public works department, makes changes to stormwater ordinance

Ezra Maille
Black Mountain News
Nearly a year after its inception, Black Mountain made changes to the town's stormwater utility ordinance at a Town Council meeting on May 9.

In a meeting on May 9, the Black Mountain Town Council approved changes to the stormwater utility ordinance and thanked the public works department for its hard work as a part of the town's public works appreciation week.

Generally, the changes to the stormwater ordinance, originally adopted roughly a year ago, reflect language cleanup and definition specification. 

"There are no new fees, the structure is not changing or anything like that," said Jessica Trotman, the planning director for the town. "Instead, it's really just a simplification of some of the mechanisms to the process of law."

For example, Trotman said, instead of referring to a specific date for when the town's database assembles all the records, the ordinance will use language such as "annually." This will allow for a shorter amount of time from when the database pulls together the data and when stormwater bills go out.

Changes such as this will allow for the town to move the whole process along, according to Trotman. 

Trotman said the changes also create more consistency in the language of the ordinance to ensure clarity. A few changes refer to common uses within the town, adding more specificity to certain designations and eliminating typos.

Also, if a town resident moves and a stormwater bill is sent to them even though they no longer live at their former property, the ordinance allows for a new bill to be sent to the current property owner.

"You just let us know, we will reach out to the new property owner because we have all the property records and we can issue a new bill," Trotman said. "That person that sold it is not responsible for it. The new owner will be responsible for it."

If the fee structure of the stormwater utility ordinance were to change, that would occur as part of the town's budget, according to Josh Harrold, town manager.

The Town Council also requested the implementation of an internal policy for the stormwater utility as a means to deal with specific situations such as a resident unable to pay their bill in a timely manner due to extenuating circumstances.

"It's nice to be able to have some leniency if you can," Harrold explained. "There's certain things that are beyond folks' control, and we understand that."

Harrold said the town would implement such a policy by following all the necessary state rules and regulations, seeing how similar municipalities handle such policies and abiding by the recommendations of the NC School of Government in Chapel Hill.

Mayor Larry Harris also read a proclamation honoring the hard work of the public works department at the meeting. He thanked staff on behalf of the town and expressed appreciation for the multitude of different services public works provides for the town and its residents.

"Our town's public works department provides our community with roadway construction and maintenance, residential and commercial sanitation services, recycling, fleet maintenance, facilities maintenance and stormwater management services," Harris read. "The health, safety and economic vitality of this community greatly depends on these services and operations."

The town's public works appreciation week takes place the week of May 1

Ezra Maille covers the town of Black Mountain, Montreat and the Swannanoa Valley. Reach him at 828-230-3324 or emaille@blackmountainnews.com. Please support local journalism with access to more breaking news by subscribing.