Barre Town interested in public/private stormwater projects

6/6/2019 – Times Argus:

BARRE TOWN — Local officials have expressed interest in entering into a public/private partnership for stormwater projects.

At its regular meeting Tuesday night, the Select Board heard from Town Manager Carl Rogers. Rogers told the board the Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission (CVRPC) reached out to the town Friday to see if it would be interested in being selected for a stormwater project where public and private entities would work together.

Pam DeAndrea, a senior planner at CVRPC, sent out an email Friday to area towns talking about the project. DeAndrea said CVRPC has been subcontracted by Watershed Consulting Associates (WCA), out of Burlington, to conduct outreach to local communities to see if they would be willing to participate. She said the project is part of the state’s effort to reduce runoff entering Lake Champlain and WCA has been hired by the Department of Environmental Conservation to head it up.

DeAndrea said the focus of the project is impervious surfaces that are 3 acres or larger that were built before 2002, when the state changed its stormwater development requirements for projects of that size.

WCA selected 45 towns that meet the criteria for the project, including having the larger, older impervious surfaces and documented water quality concerns. Of those 45 towns, 12 are in Washington County and include Barre City, Montpelier and Berlin.

DeAndrea said in her email WCA wants to narrow the list down to 10 towns and a total of about 10 to 15 sites. The company would then work with the municipalities and property owners to develop partnerships to come up with a plan to address stormwater issues at those sites. WCA will also provide preliminary design work for the proposed projects.

Rogers told the board Tuesday the regional planning commission needed an answer by Wednesday if the town is interested in the project. He said the list is expected to be reduced June 12.

Rogers said if Barre Town is picked, town staff would sit down with people from WCA and the regional planning commission later this month to figure what sites would best be served by a public/private partnership.

He said after the list of sites is compiled, the town would have a chance to say if it wants to move forward or not.

“A public/private partnership could have many different forms,” Rogers said.

He said the town could decide to build and maintain a facility to address stormwater at a certain site, with the property owner agreeing to give the town some money to build it. Or he said the town could send some of its stormwater into a treatment facility built by the property owner and the property owner would be compensated for it.

Board members said they didn’t see any downside from expressing interest at this point since the project is in its preliminary stages and they wouldn’t be locked into anything by doing so. They voted unanimously to express interest in the project.