At the first 2024 town council meeting, Carrboro discussed new stormwater-management program.


By Fraser Sherman

Carrboro Town Council may increase the residential stormwater fee from $90 to $100 to fund a program that would help residents better manage runoff, erosion and pollution.

At the Jan. 9 meeting the council voted unanimously to approve city staff’s draft design for the Watershed Restoration Residential Assistance Program and to schedule a Feb. 27 public hearing on the proposed rate change.

Landowners could apply for assistance under the program if their property is zoned residential, inside city limits, and doesn’t have an active land-use or building permit. Once they apply, a city staffer makes a site assessment and recommends ways to control stormwater runoff. Potential options include rain gardens, cisterns, swales with vegetation, and dividing up waterproof surfaces with patches of garden. The landowner can then apply to the city for funding to cost-share the project.

Carrboro’s cost share could be more than $30,000 on some projects if the city has money available and if the project passes the review process. The more money involved, the more thorough the review; a city staffer could sign off on $2,000 but above $30,000 it needs council approval.

Council member Catherine Fray asked why Carrboro doesn’t tier stormwater fees based on lot size or on how much of the lot is impervious to water.  Jeanette O’Connor, chair of the Stormwater Advisory Commission, said the available GIS data isn’t accurate enough to measure lot size. “We’ll be overrun by people saying ‘you charged me too much; I’m in the wrong tier!’”

 Fixing that, she added, would require more technical support than Carrboro has available.

In other matters:

  • The council allocated $75,000 in American Recovery Plan Act funding to help low-income families with their child-care and transportation needs.
  • The council heard a presentation on Chapel Hill’s proposal to extend the water and sewer boundary along US 15-501 to the Chatham County line. This produced the most public comment of the night. Members of the public variously argued it was needed for affordable housing; would make it harder to develop affordable housing; or that added development would increase flooding in the area.
  • The council unanimously voted to have staff defer a resolution on the boundary extension to the Feb. 6 meeting, inviting key stakeholders to attend and asking for related information from Chapel Hill.

Fraser Sherman has worked for newspapers, including the Destin Log, the Pensacola News-Journal and the Raleigh Public Record. Born in England, he’d still live in Florida if he hadn’t met the perfect woman and moved to Durham to marry her. He’s the author of several film reference books and has published one novel and several short story collections.

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