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Rocky Hill Set to Adopt Stormwater Ordinance

By Rikki N. Massand / Posted December 18, 2020


Rocky Hill Borough Council will hold a public hearing on Monday, December 21 on a new Stormwater Management ordinance aimed at reducing flooding and keeping the Millstone River and its tributaries within borough borders clean.

Anna Reinalda, a Rocky Hill resident who graduated from Montgomery High School, kayaks on the Millstone River in Rocky Hill in September.

The borough is set to adopt a version based on the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s model ordinance, “which reflects their new regulations,” according to Borough Engineer Tom Decker of Van Cleef Engineering.


“Earlier this year NJDEP adopted new stormwater management regulations that include the use of green management infrastructure. These reg’s are mandated to be adopted by municipalities. The model ordinance, with references specific to Rocky Hill, is up for council approval. All regulations are per NJDEP and the ordinance was basically crafted by the DEP; everything in there is the minimum for New Jersey municipalities to adopt. The borough is mandated to adopt the ordinance (2020-04) in this format or there’s the ability to enhance it,” he said.


Hydro-geological calculations contained in ordinance are similar or identical to what currently exists in borough code, but there are new articles to be adopted to replace the “old” versions, Council President Irene Battaglia said.


“[Ordinance 2020-04] includes rules surrounding the treatment of stormwater runoff as it infiltrates into the ground. What’s before us is the model ordinance the state developed to assist municipalities, eyeing consistency in rules across New Jersey and it’s also helpful to us to not have to come up with our own ordinance. This version is what the state recommends and it complies with what the state’s new rules are — modified to fit with Rocky Hill’s municipal code,” she said.


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Council introduced the ordinance at its December 7 meeting. Borough Engineer Decker said if any substantial future development in Rocky Hill were either likely or feasible in years to come, there would be other considerations. “If Rocky Hill were a large community with more potential for development, it might be worth going through the ordinance and tailoring for potential new developments, but very limited building opportunities exist here. In my opinion any enhancements to the DEP model ordinance would never be implemented or very rarely implemented,” Decker said.

Councilmember Mark Sibley mentioned how possible development scenarios have been investigated and discussed with council, Borough Attorney Jolanta Maziarz, and consulting planner to the borough Tamara Lee. Sibley wanted assurance there was vetting of the items the ordinance would cover related to permeable surface areas, any new drainage requirements, and the like. Battaglia clarified that the ordinance would apply to any new impervious surfaces or developments within the borough, which as Decker said are improbable to come about.


Battaglia says if the borough repaved any of its roads (impervious surfaces) there would be a built-in permit under the new ordinance because it’s for an already-existing road surface. Rocky Hill doesn’t have to consider any changes to infrastructure to be in compliance with the proposed updated regulations.


“The big thing it covers would be for any development where outside groups come in — we don’t have a likelihood for new warehouses or new buildings, though we have open space with the potential for development. It makes sense for Rocky Hill to go with standards that the state recognizes to be minimum standards,” she commented.


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The rules were last revised by New Jersey in 2006, and Rocky Hill also adopted the state’s model ordinance then.


“We would not want to keep the rules the way they are as evidence shows it isn’t good to have detention basins and wet ponds in a singular location on a major development. We would not have to have deep retention basins anymore because the green infrastructure method would help thread out their (larger) design. It is better to do these smaller facilities that help mimic the natural cycle of water, as if there was no development on that site. We’re trying to aim, to get as close as possible, to replicate the natural state of the land. Adopting this would be good for the borough,” Battaglia said.


Pedestrian signals and NJDOT Funding


n other borough engineering news, Decker said for the pedestrian signal at the crosswalk at Montgomery Avenue and Washington Street (Route 518) the American Disabilities Act (ADA) access ramps on the curb have been installed.


For the crossing light/signal posts, footings and sidewalk modifications were planned while fall temperatures were warmer, for pouring the concrete. Construction on them began October 26. Decker says the project contractor “is waiting for the posts and for signage” materials to arrive.


The borough’s proposal for the Merritt Lane and Washington Street pedestrian signal was recently approved by the state Department of Transportation (DOT) and Decker will be coordinating with Clerk Rebecca Newman for a date the borough goes out to bid on the project.


For 2020, from the New Jersey DOT awarded $360,000 to Rocky Hill for the resurfacing of Princeton Avenue from Washington Street to Hickory Court. Decker announced that while that project moves forward with a survey of Princeton Avenue completed and design work begun, unfortunately the borough’s 2021 local aid application to NJDOT for curbing and drainage improvements along Merritt Lane did not receive funding from the state entity.


“There are a couple reasons, one being the sizable award for the Princeton Avenue project and for a small community is a good amount. The NJDOT likes to fund projects that are on connector or ‘through’ roads between municipalities — such as Princeton Avenue, Montgomery Avenue, and Washington Street (which is Somerset County Rt. 518). Both Montgomery and Princeton Avenues received funding in recent years, and for 2022 we’ll take a look to see if the borough can receive funding for projects that might qualify,” Decker told council.


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