Industry groups and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection have reached a temporary solution to clear the stormwater permit logjam that's delaying economic development projects.
DEEP allowed the stormwater general permit to lapse Sept. 30 this year after environmental and industry groups requested a hearing concerning the agency's permit revisions.
DEEP issued a notice in January to modify the current stormwater general permit, which had been in effect without modification since 2013.
Many of the issues related to the permit focused on DEEP’s insertion of Appendix I, designed to regulate the construction of commercial solar power projects.
The permit is required for all construction projects greater than five acres and is designed to protect the state’s waters from erosion and sedimentary runoff due to construction.
Projects between one and five acres do not require a permit, although they must be reviewed and approved by a local land-use commission such as a planning and zoning, wetlands, or conservation commission.
Permit Registrations Suspended
Even though solar farms were at the center of the permit issue, all stormwater general permit registrations have been suspended since Oct. 1.
As a result, no projects of any type were authorized, hindering economic development across the state.
After hearing from impacted businesses, CBIA initiated conversations with DEEP last week urging quick action on at least a temporary solution allowing projects already in the pipeline to move forward.
DEEP and other stakeholders then reached a temporary agreement.
The agency is expected to reissue the current version of the stormwater general permit for a period of 90 days later this week.
Nothing in the previous permit will change. DEEP will use the authority granted by Gov. Ned Lamont’s COVID-19 executive orders 7M and 7DDD to extend the permit.
Any projects that filed a permit application prior to Oct. 1, 2020 will be subject to the requirements of the old permit.
Applicants should expect to receive their permit registrations or denials by the end of 2020.
Before the year end, DEEP will issue a revised stormwater general permit that incorporates changes agreed to by the agency and other stakeholders.
Those changes will include a substantial revision to Appendix I. Projects that file a permit application after Oct. 1, 2020 will be subject to the new permit requirements.
It is anticipated that the new general permit will be promulgated by DEEP in the next few weeks, if not sooner.
For more information, contact CBIA's Ashley Zane (860.244.1169).