Council for Quality Growth and City of Atlanta Watershed Department Reach Compromise on Stormwater Ordinance

The City of Atlanta City Utilities Committee unanimously passed yesterday what is expected to be the final Stormwater Ordinance. It will most likely appear on the Consent Agenda before the full City Council on Monday, February 4.   This is important to Council for Quality Growth members, as the Stormwater Ordinance demonstrates a policy shift in Atlanta’s Department of Watershed Management to push “Green Infrastructure and Runoff Reduction” policies.

Throughout last year, Council members and staff, along with the Metro Atlanta Real Estate Trade Group (MARTAG) have met with city staff on multiple occasions in order to advocate for a balanced approach to stormwater management that does not hinder new economic development, or more importantly, redevelopment in the City.

The Council for Quality Growth presented a letter of recommendations to Chairman Howard Shook and other members of the City Utilities which can be viewed HERE, along with suggested final changes to the current ordinance, with the final recommendations by the Council  HERE. MARTAG additionally submitted a letter to the Committee which supported the CQG position, that can be viewed HERE. Council staff also presented comments to the Committee in the Tuesday meeting.

The Council for Quality Growth advocated for policies that would allow our members to choose between the current law or the proposed ordinance, with incentives for the latter. Unfortunately the City was not willing to agree, but City staff and Council members worked diligently over a ten month period to incorporate changes in the ordinance that was passed out of Committee. Additionally, Council staff insisted on a document that specified the process for falling back on existing Water Quality requirements if Runoff Reduction methods were not feasible  Watershed staff agreed to the Council for Quality Growth request and a copy of the Draft document can be viewed HERE.

The Council still believes the ordinance should be limited to development and redevelopment of 5,000 square feet or more. This would allow small business to remain exempt from additional costs that potentially will hinder redevelopment in the city due to the rising costs of incorporating infiltration techniques required by the new ordinance. We would also encourage the City to follow the standards established by the Georgia Stormwater Management Manual, which remain consistent with our recommendations.

The Council for Quality Growth would like to thank our affiliate partners for their support, the members of the City’s Watershed Department staff for working with the Council throughout the process and the City Utilities Committee for their adoption of our recommendations.

As the Ordinance progresses through the final steps of the legislative process, Council staff will remain engaged and active with the City Council and staff.  Members, continue to check the Council for Quality Growth website for updated information and analysis on the final ordinance.