Colchester Selectboard Considers Stormwater Utility
Colchester has a long tradition of preserving and protecting its water resources for future generations. The stormwater utility under consideration is another positive step toward that goal, and is a key component of the Town’s overall Clean Water Initiative.
In 2009, the Town received a $1.5 million federal grant to study water quality issues in Colchester. This four year study, known as the Integrated Water Resources Management Plan, included sixteen public meetings and produced several key recommendations. One of those recommendations was to create and adopt a Stormwater Utility as outlined in the Stormwater Utility Feasibility Study.
The Colchester Selectboard is considering the creation of a Stormwater Utility. A Stormwater Utility is very similar to a water or sewer utility. The utility takes care of the community’s stormwater system, and charges all properties a user fee based upon the amount of stormwater they create. The amount of stormwater created is based on how much impervious surface there is on a property.
To advance this key recommendation, a citizen based group known as the Stormwater Advisory Committee, (SWAC) was formed. The SWAC consists of eleven Colchester residents from diverse backgrounds and interests representing business, institutions, environmental, and residences. The SWAC has worked with Town Staff over the past eighteen months developing the Stormwater Utility. Their work began with the development of a Purpose and Need Statement, and was followed by a total of Ten Meetings over the past eighteen months.
The Town of Colchester is a member of the Chittenden County Regional Stormwater Education Program. This regional organization focuses on public education and outreach for stormwater management throughout Chittenden County. Their outreach materials include a video entitled After the Storm which provides a basic understanding of stormwater issues.
The Town has developed a number of educational materials to inform and educate Colchester residents about the proposed stormwater utility under consideration. This includes an Informational Flyer that was mailed to every property in Colchester, along with Frequently Asked Questions about the proposed stormwater utility.
If the Colchester Selectboard decides to adopt the Stormwater Utility, they will do this by adopting a proposed Stormwater Ordinance following a public hearing process. The proposed ordinance will include by reference a Stormwater User Fee Credit Manual which allows for credits to be issued to non-single family residential properties as defined within the proposed ordinance.
Those properties defined in the ordinance as Single Family Properties shall pay a flat fee of $52.39 per year, or about $4.36 per month. For a home currently assessed at $275,000, the annual costs will be slightly less under the utility then current charges. For properties defined in the ordinance as Non-single Family Properties, the costs will vary from one property to another, depending upon the assessed value and amount of impervious surface on the property. A Searchable User Cost Database can be used to identify all of the current and future stormwater costs for every property in Colchester.
Searchable User Costs Database Disclaimer: Each individual property in Town is listed separately in the database. If you own multiple properties you will need to search for each of your properties to total your costs. At this time, the database is only current to July 1, 2016. If a property has changed ownership since July 1, 2016, it will still be listed under the prior owner until the next regular update is completed. If you are a resident of Colchester, yet rent and do not own property in Colchester, you will not find your name in the database. The database lists only the legal owners of each property.
There will be a total of three Selectboard meetings where the proposed stormwater utility will be discussed. All of these meetings will be held in the Outer Bay Room located on the third floor of the Colchester Town Offices at 781 Blakely Road. Meetings begin at 6:30 PM, and will be held on March 14th, March 28th, and April 25th of 2017. The Selectboard is expected to vote on the creation of the Stormwater Utility following a public hearing on April 25, 2017. All of the meetings will include a detailed presentation of the proposed Stormwater Utility.