We’re from the government and we’re here to help you with regulations

In these days of more regulations and unfunded mandates, communication and cooperation between landowners, developers and governmental agencies is more important than ever.

Not only does this communication and cooperation take the guesswork out of what is required, but also it can build partnerships and good working relationships.

Lots of steps

For instance, in Jefferson County a new subdivision was being proposed. In our area, new development of any type has been slow due to the recent economic conditions. So this new subdivision was a good thing and was recognized as such.

A meeting was held at the Jefferson County Regional Planning Commission office to discuss this proposed project. In attendance were township trustees, the county health department, the county engineer, county commissioner, regional planning commission representatives, the Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District and the developers.

The discussion consisted of what was required of the developers to make sure the new subdivision go in without any roadblocks. The topics covered everything from Ohio Environmental Protection Agency permits; to erosion and stormwater controls; and even what type of curbing must be installed.

At the end of the meeting, everyone was on the same page. Additionally, all the agencies involved were going to assist where needed to make sure it was a smooth process.

As for my part, I reviewed the stormwater pollution prevention plan to make sure it complied with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency general construction activity permit requirements.

Review sessions

As with almost every plan, review revisions and/or changes by the developer happen, but approval only took two reviews. After the plan was approved, a preconstruction meeting was held at the proposed site with the developers, contractor and the Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District.

At the preconstruction meeting, the Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan and the construction sequence was reviewed a second time to make sure everyone was on the same page.

Having the contractor present and using their input is key, since they are ultimately the one doing the majority of the work. It was established once the erosion controls were installed, I would do an inspection to make sure the erosion controls were properly put in.

After the initial inspection, the erosion controls were properly installed. A few other items needed tweaked. As earth-moving progressed, the developers had questions on certain items and small changes to the plan. All items were discussed and if a change could not be made, an explanation of why was given.

Inspections

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency stopped at the site to do an inspection for erosion control compliance. All controls were installed correctly and functioning. Even the disturbed areas where no work was taking place had temporary seeding. That is sometimes hard to come by with construction sites.

The site passed inspection without any issues except a couple empty water bottles on the ground. I guess you can’t get a perfect inspection from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Here to help

Being a Soil and Water Conservation District employee gives you the chance to work with landowners of all types. Assisting local landowners with their concerns is an important part of what we do.

Communication, cooperation and some common sense helps to foster long working relationships with our landowners.

Working closely with the developer will lead to more enjoyable opportunities down the road.

As Dan Ross, now retired from Natural Resources Conservation Service, would say, “We’re from the government and we’re here to help you.” Dan would say this jokingly at stormwater meetings due to the additional mandated changes and regulations being passed down.

By keeping up on changes and regulations at the Soil and Water Conservation District, our offices can play a vital role in each of our respective counties in being able to assist landowners.

And in doing so, when someone says, “We are from the government and we’re here to help you,” it will mean something.

About the Author

Brandon Andresen is the water quality coordinator for Jefferson SWCDs. Prior to joining the Jefferson SWCD, Brandon was the lead soil erosion technician for Allegheny County Conservation District in Pittsburgh, PA. More Stories by Brandon Andresen

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