The Greensboro City Council almost passed a resolution in support of the Jordan Lake Rules at its Tuesday, Feb. 21 meeting.
Greensboro has a long history of opposing the implementation of the Jordan Lakes Rules because of the excessive costs that would be incurred.
The resolution was promoted as an innocuous thank you and might have passed without comment had Councilmember Tony Wilkins not read the resolution, wondered about the complete reversal of longstanding city policy and sent the resolution to a couple of people he said he considered experts on the Jordan Lake Rules to comment. He said that the experts were astounded that Greensboro would even consider such a resolution.
Councilmember Mike Barber said at the Tuesday meeting that Mayor Nancy Vaughan had asked for the resolution to thank state Sen. Trudy Wade for her work on delaying the implementation of the Jordan Lake Rules, but that the wording on the resolution was wrong. The vote on the resolution was postponed so the resolution could be rewritten.
Barber is not known for understatements, but to blame the delay on the passage of the resolution on imprecise wording is just that.
The title of the resolution, which was added to the agenda and was not available Tuesday night to the press or public is “Resolution opposing any further modifications to the Jordan Lake Rules and thanking the General Assembly for helping Greensboro comply with current environmental regulations.”
What happened is a little cloudy, but it appears that because Greensboro is completing its $120 million upgrade to the Osborne Waste Water Treatment plant and will be able to comply with the water quality standards for the Jordan Lake Rules, the idea was to thank the legislature for delaying the implementation of those rules until Greensboro could get its treatment plant upgrade finished and asking the General Assembly not to make the standards any more stringent.
The problem is that wastewater treatment plants are only one part of the Jordan Lake Rules. Another major portion of the rules deal with nonpoint source pollution, which includes storm water runoff.
The way the rules are written, it’s not just new development that would have new, more stringent and more expensive regulations; the city could be required to retrofit long established neighborhoods with storm water retention ponds and other such devices that improve the quality of the storm water runoff. In some neighborhoods this could be an outrageously expensive proposition. Imagine the expense of buying the land and building storm water retention ponds in Irving Park, Starmount and Sunset Hills.
According to the rules, someone building a single-family residence on a lot of over an acre could be required to put in a storm water retention pond or some other device to improve the quality of the storm water run off.
Putting an addition on a home, a new garage or otherwise increasing the amount of impervious surface could also trigger new regulations requiring storm water mitigation measures
According to the way similar rules have been interpreted in other instances, septic tanks would require yearly inspections and be held to a higher standard.
There are a whole of host of rules and regulations that would go into effect and it’s possible a whole new level of government to enforce the regulations could be established. So builders would not only have to get all the necessary permits from the city or county but could be required to go through another government entity established to enforce the rules.
The implementation of the Jordan Lakes Rules would be a real job killer for the area because it would greatly increase the cost of development. Why would a new business come here when, to build the exact same facility in another area of the state would be far less expensive, like right next door in Winston-Salem? For that matter, why expand a facility here and be forced to comply with a whole bevy of new regulations when expanding somewhere else would not have the same result?
The city should be able to comply with one set of regulations with the completion of the wastewater treatment plant, but that is just the tip of the iceberg as far as the Jordan Lake Rules are concerned.