Montreat stormwater permit is expired, but town 'on track' to meet new deadline

Karrigan Monk
Black Mountain News
The Montreat Board of Commissioners met with a small crowd on Sept. 8.

The Montreat Board of Commissioners met for its monthly meeting Sept. 8. 

The largest part of the meeting was taken by Mary Roderick, a regional planner with Land of Sky Regional Council, who joined the commissioners to discuss Montreat's stormwater management. 

Roderick focused on the town's Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System, or MS4, permit compliance. Last month, the board adopted a resolution to have a compliant system, which Roderick said she appreciated. 

MS4 permits require that those with the permit implement Storm Water Management Programs. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, these programs "must include pollution prevention measures, treatment or removal techniques, monitoring, use of legal authority and other appropriate measures to control the quality of storm water discharged."

SWMP programs must report annually, and new MS4 permits are required every five years. 

Currently, Montreat's permit is expired. Roderick said this is in part due to staffing changes and a lack of communication. The original permit deadline was in February, with a new deadline of Oct. 25. Roderick told the board they are "on track" for the new deadline. 

"We've done the work we need to do," Roderick said. "We're working on it. We're OK there."

Roderick told the board the EPA is cracking down on North Carolina, which in turn is cracking down on local jurisdictions for compliance with these permits, but that Montreat is doing fine. 

"From what we've seen of your system, it is in good shape, it is well-managed," Roderick said. "The reality is you're doing OK with your stormwater."

Despite this, Montreat received notices of violation when an audit was conducted in July. 

Roderick said this was not unusual, as 24 out of 30 communities also received notices. In the area, only Hendersonville did not receive a violation, which Roderick attributes to the city having a full-time stormwater administrator. 

Roderick said the Department of Environmental Quality had a "very long" list of requirements.  

"It's a bit overkill, especially for a community of this size," Roderick said. "You would not have these requirements if you were not in Asheville's urbanizing area, but that's what pulled you into this." 

In order to address the violations, Roderick said Montreat will focus on staffing and funding and adhering to the stormwater management plan. 

As it stands, for MS4 compliance, Montreat has a formal agreement with Land of Sky Regional Council, a zoning administrator, an app to report problems, staff certified in inspections and meetings with Montreat Land Care about public education and outreach and public involvement and engagement. 

Looking forward, Roderick is looking to finish the stormwater management draft, to renew the permit and to have Montreat join the Land of Sky Regional Council stormwater services program. 

In other business, the board voted to appoint William "Bill" Tucker to the Planning and Zoning Commission to fill an alternate position, as well as to appoint Mark Spence to the Board of Adjustment to fill an alternate position. Both appointments will expire on Sept. 30, 2025, and were passed with no opposition. 

Another appointment was on the agenda for Margaret "Mari" Gramling to join the Board of Adjustment to fill an unexpired regular position, but Mayor Pro Tem Tom Widmer moved to postpone the vote until the next meeting where the Bboard could ask Gramling questions. The motion passed with no opposition. 

October's Board of Commissioners meeting will be held Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. in Town Hall.