I've spent a fair number of digits in the last few days chronicling how the various Maryland counties designated to pay the 'Rain Tax' have decided to implement it, and whether they were co-operating or resisting the state. Today, we have news from Charles County, a country whose northern part is involved in the near Washington D.C. 'Metro Mess' (my term), and a much more rural south of farms and counryish suburbs.
Charles County decided to screw the rural half: Stormwater bill hits Charles County’s rural families hard
The amount of impervious surface in each jurisdiction has been calculated from a 2011 aerial survey of the state. A county consultant prepared an impervious surface map between July and January.This, despite the fact that rural homes and farms have far more permeable surfaces as well, which enable 'stormwater' (aka 'rain') to run off the impermeable surfaces onto permeable surfaces (grass, soil and forests) and be absorbed. It's in city setting that the rain literally has nowhere to go except into stormwater drains which wind up polluting the Bay.
The impervious surface of each parcel was calculated using a digital map and broken into five separate classifications — urban single-family homes, townhouses, condominiums, rural residential and agricultural.
The average impervious surface for urban homes was calculated at 3,255 square feet, which was set as the base unit — equivalent residential unit — used to calculate the fee for the remaining classifications. For each ERU a property has, $32 will be assessed to its tax bill.
Because the average impervious surface for townhomes came out to 1,654 square feet, each one counts as half an ERU in the proposed ordinance. Condos averaged 1,070 square feet of impervious surface and are each assessed a third of an ERU.
Rural homes averaged 7,237 square feet of impervious surface and are each assessed two ERUs. Farm properties also count as two ERUs, despite averaging 10,003 square feet of impervious surface.
For example, I offer myself and our property. We live in a nearly rural suburb, 800 houses in an area of a square mile or so. Our property is 4 lots, approximately 100 x 100 ft each for a total area of about 40,000 sq ft. Our house has roof area of roughly 1,500 sq ft, and our driveway is probably around 1000 sq ft, so the 7,000 sq assumed for 'rural homes is way off. Our yard and gardens completely surrounds the house, and a vacant forested lot that we own behind our house intercepts any water draining off our property. Only in the most severe storms, does rain ever run down our yard, through the forest and out to the stream at the bottom of the hill behind us. And yet under Charles County I would pay twice or four times as much as an urban dweller, all of whose stormwater runs off and requires treatment.