Asotin County Adopts Storm Water Ordinance
by Stephanie Smith
KLEW TV, June 30, 2009
ASOTIN - Asotin County has a new storm water ordinance.
The ordinance, adopted by commissioners Monday, has been hotly contested. It's in response to a federal mandate to help protect the river.
Since a recent public hearing, Public Works Director Joel Ristau says a couple changes in the ordinance were made and that they are in the public's favor.
He said now the ordinance includes a period of 20 days to come up with a plan after the first violation. Previously that number was 10. Another change is if someone appeals a violation, the burden of proof will be on the county instead of the alleged violator.
Ristau said the county is working with the cities of Asotin and Clarkston to encourage them to pass the same ordinance, but there is one disagreement. He said "the legal team is in disagreement about it right now and that is whether or not a hearings officer instead of the court judge can issue the order to enter a premises."
Ristau said the attorneys for the City of Asotin and the county believe the hearing officer has that power, where as attorneys for the City of Clarkston want a judge to make that decision.
Asotin County is the first of the three entities to pass the ordinance. Commissioner Doug Mattoon said one citizen is considering legal action.
"I'm not willing to get involved in spending hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayers money fighting a state and federal regulation that we are required to adopt," said Mattoon. "There are too many municipalities that have gone through this process over the last 10 or 15 years."
Ristau said he hopes education will stop violators.
"If we are two to three years into implementation of this ordinance and we don't have one single fine issued, I would call that a program success not a program failure."
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