FERNDALE - The city will join a dozen western Washington cities and one county to appeal a new, stricter state stormwater permit.
The appeal claims that new requirements to reduce pollution in storm runoff will take up too much staff time, restrict development and create financial hardships for municipalities.
The Ferndale City Council voted 5 to 2 on Monday, Oct. 1, to pay $15,000 to add the city's name to the appeal. It targets stronger requirements for controlling runoff from construction sites, and for inspecting and cleaning stormwater intakes, pipes, catch basins and ditches.
Meeting these requirements and rewriting the city code will place a burden on Ferndale's small staff, city Stormwater Program Specialist Wendy LaRocque said at the meeting.
Builders will bear extra costs, even those doing smaller home improvements, she said. The new permit, issued by the state Department of Ecology, adds runoff restrictions for sites smaller than one acre.
Ecology developed the stricter rules with public input, based on what it learned after issuing the first version of the permit in 2007. While the new permit becomes valid in August 2013, some of the requirements don't go into effect until the end of 2016.
"We don't want people to think Ferndale's against water quality," LaRocque said. "We need these regulations from DOE to force people to change. I just think Ferndale needs more time before more requirements are put in place."
Council member Keith Olson, who voted against the appeal, said Ferndale shouldn't pay the legal fee to join. If the municipalities prevail, he said, Ferndale will still benefit. Council member Lloyd Zimmerman also voted not to join the appeal.
The prevailing attitude among the majority was that if the council believes in the appeal, it should participate.
"I don't think it's right to let other people fight your battles and hope that they win," council member Cathy Watson said.