Stormwater Matters

Stormwater Management Fee Ordinance passed at the December 15, 2021 Board of Commissioners Meeting
Resolution Establishing an Enterprise Fund for Stormwater Management Fees

At its April 2020 legislative meeting, the Board of Commissioners awarded a professional services contract to Arcadis, a design and consulting firm based from Philadelphia, to conduct a stormwater impact fee feasibility study and help implement the fee if one is determined feasible.

Flooding Picture

Since then, a Stormwater Advisory Committee (SAC) consisting of residential, commercial and institutional property owners and Township officials has been working with the selected consultant to guide the feasibility study process. The consultant has been meeting with various stakeholders and host several public meetings throughout the process.

Stormwater impact fees are being implemented in communities across the country to help finance projects that will meet increasing state and federal regulations placed upon communities to manage stormwater and improve water quality. In addition, the fees collected enable municipalities to take on stormwater projects that will improve their ability to anticipate, prepare for, and respond to hazardous events related to climate, otherwise known as climate resiliency.

Cheltenham is highly susceptible to flood events and is working with agencies such as the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on several flood mitigation projects. Even with significant funding contributed by the USACE and DEP, the Township will contribute substantial capital and operating dollars to these and other flood mitigation projects.

Managing the Township’s municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) – the system of pipes, drains, ditches, and other conveyances that carry stormwater into the waters of the U.S. – also carries significant costs to maintain and meet the requirements of the Clean Water Act, a necessity for federal permission to release stormwater into federal waters. The Township’s stormwater capital and operating costs will only increase as regulations become more stringent.

Resiliency, flood mitigation and water quality projects will continue to place a strain on the Township’s budgets and will likely require tax increases. The Township is investigating a stormwater impact fee as an equitable option for financing these costs.

The stormwater impact fee will be assessed based on a property’s use of the Township’s stormwater system. Properties with more building, parking lot, and other impervious coverage will be charged more, as they typically generate more stormwater than smaller properties. Often, properties with significant amounts of impervious coverage, such as schools and religious institutions, are those that pay little to no property taxes. They would, however, be required to pay a stormwater impact fee.

The selected consultant will also be working with the Township to identify opportunities to reduce the stormwater impact fee. Credits could be assessed to a property that implements Best Management Practices (BMPs) proven to reduce the amount and/or improve the quality of stormwater entering the MS4.

Cheltenham will be joining the growing number of communities in Pennsylvania investigating a stormwater impact fee. Approximately 40 communities across Pennsylvania have stormwater impact fees, including Philadelphia, Radnor Township, and West Chester Borough. Municipalities with stormwater impact fees also receive more grant or financing opportunities to further offset the costs of stormwater management projects.