AP NEWS

Lehman Twp. Woman Organizing Effort To Challenge Stormwater Fee

March 28, 2019

LEHMAN TWP. — A Lehman Twp. resident is organizing an effort to hire an attorney to possibly challenge a stormwater fee that some Luzerne County residents are paying.

Marian DeAngelis, 41, has contacted attorney Margaret M. Witherup with the Baltimore-based law firm Gordon Feinblatt LLC. Witherup has worked on stormwater issues in Maryland and plans to explore options for challenging the fee, she said.

“I don’t think the (Environmental Protection Agency) requirements for addressing stormwater are going to go away, but I think there are lots of ways in which local jurisdictions can address the issue and they don’t always involve having to impose additional fees on citizens,” she said.

In Maryland, for example, the state’s legislature passed a law in 2012 that required the 10 largest jurisdictions in the state to set fees to pay for work that would reduce pollution from runoff.

But in 2015, the state’s legislature loosened the procedures stipulating how to pay for that work. Lawmakers threw out the requirement for a fee, although the pollution reduction standards remained in place.

After that change, some local jurisdictions kept a fee, but others eliminated it.

“They thought it could be addressed just by shifting money around within existing budgets,” Witherup said. “I think that’s something local jurisdictions can do. Once the state requirement is repealed, they had the flexibility to determine what was best for their own citizens.”

In Luzerne County, 32 municipalities voted to allow the Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority to oversee a shared response to Environmental Protection Agency environmental regulations regarding stormwater. WVSA charged a fee based on the amount of impervious surface on a property in order to raise funds for projects that would meet the EPA requirements.

That fee is unfair, DeAngelis said. She would like the fee or the pollution reduction requirements to be reduced or eliminated, and for the state government to fund the response. She’s concerned about oversight of the WVSA program to jointly meet the pollution reduction goals.

DeAngelis is organizing a meeting scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m., April 4 at the Jackson Twp. Volunteer Fire Department, 1160 Chase Road, to discuss her goals for examining and possibly challenging the stormwater fee and to raise money for attorney’s fees.

“We want to look at the program and see what can we do to get away from this,” she said.

Contact the writer:

bwellock@citizensvoice.com

570-821-2051, @CVBillW

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Meeting about stormwater fee organized by Marian DeAngelis

WHEN: 6 to 8 p.m., April 4

WHERE: Jackson Twp. Volunteer Fire Department, 1160 Chase Road

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Meeting about stormwater fee organized by Marian DeAngelis

WHEN: 6 to 8 p.m., April 4

WHERE: Jackson Twp. Volunteer Fire Department, 1160 Chase Rd.