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Delays likely for key construction permit
State recommends filing notices soon
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Forsyth County News

A key permit required for many construction projects could be delayed if developers planning to break ground soon don’t act quickly.

Forsyth County officials on Tuesday discussed the impact of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division’s recent announcement that new stormwater discharge permits likely will not be approved by the Aug. 31 deadline.

The effect across the state is that developers who don’t file a notice of intent for the EPD’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, or NPDES, stormwater permit by July 31 won’t be able to get a land disturbance permit for construction, said Simon Wilkes, Forsyth County’s erosion and sedimentation senior inspector.

The permit allows construction sites larger than an acre to discharge into state waters, Wilkes said, and it’s a prerequisite for those developers seeking a land disturbance permit from Forsyth and other local issuers.

The state renews the permits every five years, he said, which was last done in 2008 without delay.

“However, this year we’ve been made aware that the new permits will probably not be approved by the Aug. 31 deadline,” Wilkes said. “They are not giving any guidance on when the new permit will be approved.

“Therefore, it will affect issuing authorities and the state to where you cannot issue land disturbance permits until the new permit is adopted.”

However, Wilkes said the state’s recommendation is that anyone planning land development within the next several months should file a notice of intent with the EPD “so that they can seek coverage under the existing permit and not be delayed.”

Previously issued permits set to expire July 31 will remain in effect until the new permits are approved, according to the EPD notice.

Deputy County Manager Tim Merritt said the process is simple, but developers, land owners, contractors and anyone else planning to “break ground soon” need to file that notice that they intend to comply with the existing permit requirements before July 31 or they will be delayed.

Merritt said that notice needs to be “return receipt requested so it’s documented.”

The county began notifying a list of contacts on file, including builders, developers, engineers and more, once the EPD sent preliminary notice of the permit delay on July 17, Wilkes said.

The official notice went out Monday, and commissioners and staff discussed the issue during a Tuesday work session.

Wilkes said the delay in the permit renewal stems from the stakeholders advisory board, which includes developers, engineers, environmental consultants and others.

“It’s them trying to figure out what they want adopted, what they do not want adopted in that natural process that occurs,” he said.

As Commissioner Jim Boff put it: “They’ve created their own statewide moratorium.”