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Montreat’s stormwater permit has expired; City “on track” to meet deadline

The Montreat Board of Commissioners met for its monthly meeting on September 8th.

Most of the meeting was taken up by Mary Roderick, a regional planner from the Land of Sky Regional Council, who joined the commissioners to discuss the management of stormwater in Montreat.

Roderick focused on permit compliance for the city’s municipal segregated storm sewer system, or MS4. Last month, the board passed a resolution to have a compliant system, which Roderick said she appreciates.

MS4 permits require permit holders to implement stormwater management programs. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, these programs “must include pollution prevention measures, treatment or disposal techniques, monitoring, the use of legal authority and other appropriate measures to control the quality discharged rainwater”.

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

Currently, Montreat’s permit has expired. Roderick said this was partly due to personnel changes and a lack of communication. The original permit deadline was in February, with a new deadline of October 25. Roderick told the board they were “on track” for the new deadline.

“We did the job we had to do,” Roderick said. “We are working on it. We are doing well there.”

Roderick told the board that the EPA was cracking down on North Carolina, which in turn was cracking down on local jurisdictions for enforcing those permits, but that Montreat was doing well.

“From what we’ve seen of your system, it’s in good shape, well managed,” Roderick said. “The reality is that you’re doing well with your stormwater.”

Despite this, Montreat received notices of violations during an audit carried out in July.

Roderick said that’s 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 Environmental Quality Department had a “really long” list of requirements.

“It’s a bit of a stretch, especially for a community of this size,” Roderick said. “You wouldn’t have those requirements if you weren’t in the Asheville urbanization area, but that’s what drew you there.”

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

As it stands, for MS4 compliance, Montreat has a formal agreement with the Land of Sky Regional Council, a zoning administrator, an app to report issues, certified staff during inspections and meetings with Montreat Land Care on Public Education and Awareness and Public Participation and Engagement.

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

In other business, council voted to appoint William “Bill” Tucker to the Planning and Zoning Commission to serve as an alternate, as well as to appoint Mark Spence to the Board of Adjustment to serve as an alternate. Both nominations will expire on September 30, 2025 and passed without opposition.

Another nomination was on the agenda for Margaret “Mari” Gramling to join the Board of Adjustment for an unexpired regular position, but Pro Tem Mayor Tom Widmer offered to postpone the vote until the next meeting. where the Bboard could ask Gramling questions. The motion passed unopposed.

The October Council of Commissioners meeting will be held on October 13 at 7:00 p.m. at City Hall.