Stormwater Fee Meeting Planned In The Back Mountain

January 7, 2019

Those with questions about a new stormwater fee being levied on many Luzerne County property owners might find answers at a public meeting Thursday night.

The stormwater fee will increase the annual bill for most customers of Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority. The fee is based on the amount of nonabsorbent impervious area contained in a parcel. The most common annual increase will be $57.60.

The fee is needed to comply with a stormwater management mandate from the Environmental Protection Agency for bodies of water that drain into Chesapeake Bay, including the Susquehanna River, according to sanitary authority officials.

Thursday’s 7 p.m. meeting is scheduled to be held at the Back Mountain Regional EMS building on Route 118 in Lehman Twp., but the venue might be changed to a site with more seating capacity, organizer Marian DeAngelis said Sunday.

“We anticipate a large crowd,” said DeAngelis, a former office manager for Lehman Twp.

Featured speaker will be John Levitsky, a watershed specialist for the county conservation district.

“What we hope to accomplish is have (him) meet with everyone to educate them,” DeAngelis said.

Discussion topics will include claims of discrepancies in the sanitary authority’s mapping and the process by which those who feel they are being overbilled may file an appeal.

“A lot of people have issues with the mapping,” DeAngelis said. “One woman’s map shows her neighbor’s driveway as on her property.”

The maps the sanitary authority used are based on aerial surveying and are marked “for assessment purposes only — not to provide engineering data,” according to DeAngelis.

It could be difficult for those on fixed incomes who feel they are being overcharged to appeal their bill, DeAngelis said.

If disputes over billing cannot be resolved via a site inspection or review process, property owners may file an appeal with the sanitary authority’s appeal board. Most of those appeals — regarding properties with less than 7,000 square feet of impervious surface — are subject to a $25 application fee.

However, appeals for larger properties, designated as including 7,000 square feet or more of impervious surface, must include a $250 application fee and an escrow deposit of at least $1,000. Many of those properties are commercial, but some are owned by individuals who are not wealthy, according to DeAngelis.

“A lot of people can’t afford that,” she said.

If the site for Thursday’s meeting is changed, it will be noted in the print and online editions of The Citizens’ Voice.

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