May 22, 2008
State denies stormwater permit to Wind over Waves development
By SUSAN WEST
North Carolina Environmental Management Commission voted earlier this
month against upholding a stormwater permit issued to Wind Over Waves,
LLC for phase 3 of its residential subdivision in Salvo.
“This was an extremely tough decision for the commission.
There was not unanimity,” said Pete Peterson, vice chairman of
The state Division of Water Quality (DWQ) issued the low-density stormwater permit to Wind Over Waves in 2005.
The North Carolina Coastal Federation (NCCF), a non-profit conservation
group, challenged the permit, arguing that DWQ violated state law by
issuing the permit under conditions that would allow stormwater
pollution and would harm the designated shellfishing uses of Pamlico
Sound and Britt Creek.
State law requires protection of designated shellfishing waters from
stormwater run-off that can carry bacteriological pollutants, such as
fecal coliform, and pose a threat to human health.
Administrative Law Judge Melissa Owens Lassiter heard the case and
recommended that the Environmental Management Commission (EMC) uphold
But Peterson said that an EMC majority decided the state did not adequately address the issues raised in the case.
“The particulars here were very specific and the remedies were straight-forward,” he said.
He said the transcript of the hearing showed that DWQ didn’t
adequately defend the effectiveness of rules in protecting water
quality, and offered no defense to the argument that very high water
tables diminish the ability of soils to treat run-off.
Peterson also said DWQ didn’t address cumulative impacts, even
though the project in Salvo consists of four proposed phases.
“This (project) is an obvious example of where a formal
evaluation of potential cumulative effects is needed, but there was no
evidence in the record that cumulative effects would not occur,”
Peterson said he would not be surprised to see Wind Over Waves, LLC appeal the decision.
Ward and Smith, a law firm in New Bern, represents the company.
Attorney Frank Sheffield said the company had no comment at this time.
Jan DeBlieu, NCCF coastkeeper, said the EMC decision validates the
contention that current stormwater rules do not sufficiently protect
Revised stormwater rules are scheduled to go into effect August 1, but
legislation to annul the new rules is likely to come before the General
Assembly before then.