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Proposed Pennington storm water ordinance unfair

Typing Letter to the Editor for the Opinion page.

There is a proposed Pennington ordinance that was introduced at the September council meeting, and it is scheduled for hearing and vote on Oct. 2.

This ordinance would dramatically charge the storm water rules. It would provide that residents could no longer direct rain water from their yards and gutters to the storm water system by pipes or swales directly to the street or the right of way (a strip of borough owned land from the edge of the street usually including both the sidewalk where one exists and grass strip on both sides of the sidewalk. (The sidewalk that exists and the rest of the right of way are owned by the borough but are required to be repaired and maintained by the residents).

The proposed ordinance states that the modification is to prevent flooding and protect the pavement on the streets. It has been alleged, by the borough, that rain water coming out of existing pipes connecting to holes in the curb cause deterioration of the pavement.

A recent tour of Pennington streets, taking photos of the pipes and adjacent roadway shows the opposite. These photos were provided by a Pennington resident to borough officials and members of council.

The proposed ordinance prohibits moving rain water from flooded yards to the right of way to access storm sewer grates. This ordinance does not contain a “grandfather” clause to allow such systems that were placed years ago to continue to function. The penalties for violation are draconian – up to 90 days in jail and very substantial fines of a minimum of $100/day for each day the violation occurs. These penalties are for nothing more than moving clean rain water off our yards and out of our gutters to the right of way to access the storm water system which our substantial property taxes pay for.

This unfair proposed ordinance discriminates against residents whose yards flood after heavy rains and or whose foundation walls are penetrated by standing water and absorbed water adjacent to their foundation.

At the same time this ordinance allows people with swimming pools to drain their pools without restriction directly to the right of way, even during serious storms or hurricanes.

The ordinance limits drainage from gutters and yards but allows people with pools to drain thousands of gallons at one time to the right of way without restriction.

People who live in Pennington know that the soil here does not absorb water very well, it has a high content of red clay and shale. There are many people who have houses built on lots where the elevation of property next to or in back of theirs is higher. The runoff causes flooding in their yards and they have spent thousands of dollars to have contractors install drains in their yards and gravity fed pipes moving that water to the storm sewer grates on the street by pipes to the street or right of way adjacent to the street. This was done years ago before any ordinance like this one (No. 2023-14) was ever proposed, and it was OK to do.

Now Pennington wants to change the rules requiring these systems to be dismantled and providing strict penalties, including jail, for those who fail to do so immediately.

We all pay taxes and we should all be able to use the storm water system as needed. I don’t think it is fair, I don’t think it is right, and I believe it is overly harsh and discriminatory.

The storm water sewers are for all whatever the topography of the land adjacent to their home. For people whose yards flood, what are they supposed to do with the water? They can’t drink it all. We are not dealing with pollution or chemicals, we are dealing with pure

Please contact members of council to let them know how you feel about this issue before Oct. 2. Borough council members can only be contacted by email through a link on the Pennington Borough home page. You may also attend the borough council meeting on zoom, Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. and voice your opposition to this ordinance.

Stewart Warren, Esq.


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