The town is worried that homeowners living near two brooks aren’t fully aware of the implications of a new stormwater ordinance.
Administrative Assistant to the Select Board, Bill Sweet, brought the matter up Tuesday at the Rutland Town Select Board meeting.
He said in a later interview that on June 1, the town’s new stormwater ordinance took effect. It affects the entire town to some extent, but those living within the ordinance’s stream buffer zones are under a higher degree of regulation with regard to what they can and can’t do with their property.
The ordinance can be viewed on the town’s website, www.rutlandtown.com/storm-water/.
Sweet said the ordinance was passed a few months ago. The Planning Commission and the Select Board held the required public hearings, meetings were properly warned, and notices were posted in several places.
He said the ordinance didn’t generate much public interest. A little more than 40 properties living in the buffer zones for Moon Brook and Mussey Brook will be affected more than others. A few weeks ago, a flier was sent to these homeowners, but again, little feedback was generated.
“We have a draft letter we made in conjunction with the Planning Commission for the properties that exist within the stream buffer area. This letter we’re proposing to send to those 40 some odd properties,” Sweet told the board Tuesday.
The board approved sending the letter to the buffer zone properties. It invites them all to a meeting scheduled at 6 p.m. July 11 in the Town Office.
“Andres (Torizzo) said he’s available to attend that meeting to see whether you have any questions,” Sweet said.
Torizzo works for Watershed Consulting, a Burlington company the town hired to help draft the ordinance.
“As a result of the ordinance taking effect, we sent those fliers out to each property listed and nobody said anything, so our worry is people are looking at it thinking everybody got this, and it’s not really important, when it really is important,” Sweet said.
Selectwoman Mary Ashcroft suggested the board remove the RSVP requirement from the letter, thinking it might deter some people.
“We wanted this open to everyone, not just those landowners but also those affected by other parts of the ordinance, those along Moon and Mussey brooks, and anyone else in town who’s interested in this stormwater ordinance,” said Barbara Noyes Pulling, Planning Commission chairwoman. “So we picked that date, we picked this location, we’ll do some other outreach and publicity, maybe get something in the newspaper, Front Porch Forum — the Circle will have something.”
Front Porch Forum is an online message board with forums dedicated to specific towns where people living in those communities can post. The Circle is the Town of Rutland’s newsletter.
Board Chairman Joshua Terenzini said these outreach methods are good, as a townwide mailing would be expensive.
Sweet said in an interview that this ordinance is required by state law. Larger municipalities had to create them first, now it’s on the smaller towns to do the same. He said the overall goal of the ordinances is to reduce pollution in the waterways, specifically phosphorus runoff into the Lake Champlain watershed.
He said there’s concern that people aren’t aware of the new, stricter rules and may violate it without knowing. Sweet said the town doesn’t wish to penalize people for violating ordinances and would much prefer educating people on what the rules are so that doesn’t happen.