Polk proposes new erosion, mountain ordinances; hearings Monday

Published 3:18 pm Monday, June 22, 2009

Tryon resident Jeri Board has expressed concern over recent development on Hogback Mountain as well.

&dquo;I know the state has a hands-off attitude on the clearing of personal property,&dquo; Board has said. &dquo;I grew up in an area that was devastated by Wyerhauser a century ago, but I hope that we Polk citizens can do something to protect our beautiful environment. No one is going to want to come to visit us, or move here, if we don&squo;t do something.&dquo;

The erosion and sedimentaion ordinance proposal strengthens the existing state erosion ordinance.

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Under state law, a developer must submit and secure approval of a plan to control erosion and sedimentation only if the extent of land-disturbing activity is one acre or more. Under Polk County&squo;s proposed ordinance, a plan is required if the extent of the land-disturbing activity (not the lot size) is one acre or more, on slopes of less than 15 percent, one half acre or more, on slopes 15 percent or greater but less than 25 percent, and one quarter acre or more, on slopes of 25 percent or greater.

The planning board decided months ago to split the mountainside and ridgetop ordinances into two separate ordinances in order to protect both the zoned and unzoned areas of the county.

The proposed mountainside and ridgetop ordinances would apply only to the mountainous parts of Western Polk County at elevations at and above 1,650 feet (&dquo;Protected Mountain Terrain&dquo;).&bsp; By restricting Protected Mountain Terrain to higher elevations, flatter parts of valleys where the protections are not as vital would be excluded.

In general, both ordinances for mountainside and ridgetop protections in both the zoned and unzoned areas of the county address a range of protections, including stormwater runoff control, stream pollution, landslide and landslip risks, wildfires, deforestation and wholesale leveling of mountainous terrain.

In general, a development plan would need to be filed with and approved by the county under both proposed ordinances before new construction would be permitted to proceed. However, land-disturbing activities associated with construction of a single family dwelling on a slope of 15 percent or less would be exempted from the filing and approval requirements. Changes to and replacements of most existing structures would also be exempt.