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Council hears pros, cons of stormwater mitigation fee proposal

The Charlotte City Council held a public hearing Monday on a proposed five-year extension of a stormwater mitigation fee program for redevelopment projects across the city.

The city’s post-construction controls ordinance, which became law in 2008, requires stormwater mitigation on development sites to protect water quality. In the original ordinance, companies redeveloping properties in disadvantaged neighborhoods and near transit stations were permitted to pay a fee instead of installing runoff controls, such as retention ponds. But in 2011, the city extended the program to allow developers to pay the fee on redevelopment projects across Charlotte in an effort to boost the economy.

At Monday’s meeting, some residents were against the extension of the fee in lieu plan, citing pollution to the city’s watersheds. They said the best way to control pollution, such as oil, gas and other chemicals, is at its source, as opposed to treating dirty streams at a later date.

Real estate developers countered that the program only applies to redevelopment sites. Some of them, they said, are currently 100% impervious and cause more environmental problems than newly-developed land.

The fees collected are used by the city to make system improvements within the same basin as the development, and range from stream bank restoration to the purchase of private property in floodplains. The city charges developers $60,000 per redeveloped acre in mitigation fees. On projects that are outside disadvantaged neighborhoods and away from transit stations, the fee jumps to $90,000 per acre on everything after the first acre.

In April, the City Council voted to approve the fee’s extension until Oct. 31. The council is slated to vote on the proposed revisions to the program Oct. 27.

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