GAINESVILLE – Changes handed down by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) regarding Hall County’s management of stormwater took a step towards realization with first reading of the resolution at Thursday evening’s Hall County Commission meeting, but there might be some changes in the works.
By law, changes to The Official Code of Hall County require two public hearings before a vote by commissioners; the second reading and public hearing is scheduled for November 12, 2020.
No one spoke in opposition Thursday evening to the changes mandated by the state agency. Hall is just one of fifteen counties that make up the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District, to whom the new regulations have been assigned by the EPD.
Deadline for all governing agencies within the District to adopt the regulation change is December 1, 2020. Officials with the City of Gainesville said earlier this week that in like measure they would soon be bringing the code changes before the city council for its approval prior to the deadline.
But after Monday’s county commission work session Commissioner Billy Powell expressed concern over the EPD edict, predicting that the new requirements would slow development because of the addition costs it would bring to developers. Powell commented that afternoon, “It’s just a lot more red tape and government regulation driven out of Atlanta.”
At tonight’s voting session Powell said that before the county adopts the exact wording sent down from the EPD that Hall County staff members should check with other affected jurisdictions in the district to see if they will be using the EPD’s exact language or customizing it in some fashion.
Powell suggested it might be possible for Hall County to write its own ordinance, one that would satisfy the EPD’s requirements while allowing Hall County some self-determination.
“I have asked, as an option, our Public Works Director to look at writing our own model ordinance…in lieu of adopting what they (EPD) are passing down for us to adopt,” Powell said.
Hall County’s Director of Public Works, Srikanth Yamala, agreed to check into the matter for Commissioner Powell.
When asked why the restrictive tightening of stormwater management policy was being issued by the EPD in the first place, Yamala speculated, “All of this could be applicable to the (Tri-State) Water Wars and everything associated with it.”
Yamala was referring to the decades-long, and still undetermined, feud between Florida, Alabama and Georgia about rain water that originates in Georgia and feeds the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin, as well as the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa River Basin.
Commissioner Jeff Stowe joined Powell, saying he had received comments during the week from concerned citizens and would also like to have county staff members investigate all possible options about the wording of the new code before a final vote by commissioners on November 12th.