A Storm on the Horizon: Proposed Stormwater Regs and Its Affect on Condominiums

Published on: October 1, 2009

The Massachusetts Department of Environment Protection (“DEP”) has proposed new stormwater management regulations that could have a drastic impact on condominiums. The idea behind this new program is to reduce stormwater runoff from impervious surfaces, such as parking lots and roofs, which eventually pollute rivers and streams. The new regulations would require that private property owners take certain steps to mitigate and control pollutants from stormwater runoff.

Whether a condominium would be subject to these proposed regulations and the overall effect depends on several factors. Generally speaking, the new regulations would affect private property owners with impervious surfaces of five acres or more. However, within the Charles River watershed area, private property owners with impervious surfaces of only two acres or more would be subject to the regulations. The proposed regulations define an impervious surface as essentially any paved parking area or other surface, along with a roof. The total area of all impervious surfaces on the property is aggregated to determine whether the property has five acres or more (or two acres if within certain watershed areas).

For an existing condominium with five acres or more of impervious surface, the condominium would be required to implement baseline performance standards (regular parking lot sweeping, establishing a written plan, and training employees). However, if an existing condominium were to undergo a redevelopment the requirements are more stringent. The definition of redevelopment includes the paving of more than 5,000 square feet or 5% of the paved surface, whichever is less. Thus, if a condominium were to repave more than 5,000 square feet of 5% of its parking lot, it would be subject to stricter stormwater management regulations. The stricter regulations include the installation of rain gardens and infiltration basins; thus imposing a large expense on the association.

For an existing condominium with two or more acres of impervious surface within the Charles River watershed area, in addition to the above requirements, the condominium would also have to install stormwater control systems, regardless of whether redevelopment occurs, within 10 years. These are just some of the requirements included in the proposed regulations.

Recognizing the potential impact of these proposed regulations, members of the real estate community, and other interested parties, including attorneys from MEEB, have expressed their concerns to DEP, resulting in the delayed implementation of these regulations. Members of the DEP stakeholders group, including attorneys from MEEB, continue to work with DEP to further revise the proposed regulations prior to implementation. As the process progresses we will update you with any new developments.

If you would like further information as to how these changes might impact your condominium association or you would like to get involved in our effort to revise the regulations please do not hesitate to contact Matthew Gaines at (781) 843-5000 or mgaines@meeb.com. You may also view a copy of the proposed regulations on MEEB’s website by clicking on the following link: DEP Stormwater Management Regulations