Wapakoneta city administrators and elected officials claim they are taking a proactive step in avoiding state Environmental Protection Agency oversight by seeking legislation that cleans up the streets and storm sewers of dirt and debris.
Wapakoneta City Council members heard the first reading of an ordinance establishing a new section in the city’s building code dealing with erosion and sediment control.
Mayor Rodney Metz said the legislation deals with properties within the city limits that have been excavated for construction or sewer lines. He noted they will have to install filter strips and control run-off during the construction.
“We are not trying to be cruel or harsh or unreasonable,” Metz said after Monday’s council meeting. “We are trying to get all contractors and associated parties moving in the right direction because within five years it will be an EPA requirement and if we don’t have the legislation in place than the EPA will have the final say.
“I really think we need to be ahead of the EPA because if we don’t then the EPA will take responsibility for us,” he said. “I think it is a little easier to deal with somebody locally than with someone in Columbus or not in the county.”
Metz said city workers have had to respond to several situations in the past few years where they have had to dedicate “an extreme amount of manhours” to clean up the streets and sewers of dirt, runoff and weeds.
“This legislation should help the city coffers by reducing the number of manhours spent cleaning the streets and storm sewers and will keep the soil from entering the Auglaize River and its tributaries,” Metz said. “It will also help by reducing the amount of erosion on private property.”
The mayor said curbing and roadway have been damaged from erosion in past incidents.
A group of residents brought it to the attention of city administrators and elected officials.
Councilor-at-large Steve Walter, who chairs the Utilities Committee, said Auglaize County Deputy Engineer Kevin Schnell brought in photos of properties being developed and the amount of erosion that occurs. The photographs also illustrated how much silt from nearby farm land enters the sewer system.
Walter said he became concerned when a group of residents in Lincoln Park Estates came forward regarding the condition of their retention ponds, which were filling up with silt.
Councilor-at-large Thomas Finkelmeier Jr., a member of the Utilities Committee, said another subdivision off of Infirmary Road had problems with top soil entering the street and storm sewer.
The purpose of the regulations outlined in the ordinance is to “establish technically feasible and economically reasonable standards to achieve a level of erosion and sediment control that will minimize damage to property and degradation of water resources and wetlands, and will promote and maintain the health and safety of the citizens of Wapakoneta.”
Any developer or resident guilty of violating the erosion control protection plan could be charged with a third-degree misdemeanor and fined $500.
The legislation is expected to be read two more times before passage.
A second piece of legislation is expected regarding erosion control on existing properties.