Planning Department

For Planning Department Inquiries, Call:
919-934-2116
Ext. 1101

Environment and Natural Resource Protection

 

The Town of Smithfield is committed to the protection of its environment & natural resources through various programs designs to reduce adverse impacts associated with land use activities created by commercial and non-commercial land development. 

 

POST-CONSTRUCTION STORMWATER MANAGEMENT 

 

Stormwater includes rainfall, snow melt, and all other forms of precipitation that flows off of driveways, parking lots, roofs and other hard surfaces into the local drainage system rather than soaking into the ground. The drainage system includes storm sewers, ditches, culverts, streams and roadside swales that carry stormwater away from roads and private property.

Stormwater runoff picks up pollutants like trash, chemicals, oils, and dirt/sediment that can harm our rivers, streams, lakes, and coastal waters. To protect these resources, communities, construction companies, industries, and others, use stormwater controls, known as best management practices (BMPs). These BMPs filter out pollutants and/or prevent pollution by controlling it at its source.

 

The Town of Smithfield is designated a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Phase II Stormwater community. NPDES stands for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, which is a permit program administered by individual states that controls water pollution by regulating point sources (e.g. pipes and manmade ditches) that discharge pollutants into public bodies of water. NPDES permitting regulations have become more stringent over the years, thus forcing cities to expand stormwater management programs.

 

In response to NPDES permitting regulations, the Town of Smithfield has adopted a stormwater management ordinance. These State mandated regulations can be found in Article 10: PART VII of the Unified Development Ordinance. These regulations require new commercial and residential developments to address storm water quality and storm water quantity requirements during the site plan review process using stormwater best management practices as described by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality’s Storm Water Design Manual.

As part of the Town’s stormwater management program, the Town is implementing long term O&M by legal documentation and requires property owners/entities with required stormwater management facilities to prepare and submit an annual report, on or before July 31, with certification, sealed by a registered professional engineer, that the stormwater facility is functioning as intended, plus a certification by the person or entity responsible for maintenance that (1) the specific maintenance activities have occurred, (2) all non-routine maintenance has been listed and (3) that the yearly maintenance plan is adequate to ensure optimal functioning or that changes are recommended.

ILLICIT DISCHARGE DETECTION

 

The focus of the illicit discharge detection and elimination program is to detect and eliminate illicit discharges, including spills and illegal dumping. In addition, the Town must identify and address significant contributors of pollutants to the MS4, implement appropriate enforcement procedures and actions, and develop a storm sewer system inventory and overall map showing all outfalls and associated conveyances. The final program goal is to inform employees, businesses, and the general public of hazards associated with illegal discharges and improper disposal of waste. The Town developed and adopted an ordinance to prohibit illicit discharges to the storm sewer system, which is included in the Town’s Unified Development Ordinance. 

FLOOD DAMAGE PREVENTION
National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)


The Town of Smithfield is a participant in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) which is administered by the Department of Homeland Security.  The U.S. Congress established the NFIP with the passage of the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968. The NFIP is a Federal program enabling property owners in participating communities to purchase insurance as a protection against flood losses in exchange for State and community floodplain management regulations that reduce future flood damages. Participation in the NFIP is based on an agreement between communities and the Federal Government. If a community adopts and enforces a floodplain management ordinance to reduce future flood risk to new construction in floodplains, the Federal Government will make flood insurance available within the community as a financial protection against flood losses. This insurance is designed to provide an insurance alternative to disaster assistance to reduce the escalating costs of repairing damage to buildings and their contents caused by floods. Standard property insurance does not cover flood damage.

As required by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), the Town of Smithfield has adopted and administers a Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance that can be found in Town of Smithfield Unified Development Ordinance and is designed to: 

 

  • Protect human life, safety, and health;
  • Minimize expenditure of public money for costly flood control projects;
  • Minimize the need for rescue and relief efforts associated with flooding and generally undertaken at the expense of the general public;
  • Minimize prolonged business losses and interruptions;
  • Minimize damage to public facilities and utilities (i.e. water and gas mains, electric, telephone, cable and sewer lines, streets, and bridges) that are located in flood prone areas;
  • Minimize damage to private and public property due to flooding;
  • Make flood insurance available to the community through the National Flood Insurance Program;
  • Maintain the natural and beneficial functions of floodplains;

 

The Town of Smithfield Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance requires new development within flood prone areas to acquire a Floodplain Development Permit in conformance with the provisions of these regulations prior to the commencement of any development activities within Special Flood Hazard Areas. 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has identified and mapped special flood hazard areas that are at high risk for flooding. The purpose of these maps is to help determine where flood insurance is required. In partnership with FEMA, North Carolina became the first state to assume responsibility for floodplain mapping. The project includes analyzing flood hazards and producing updated, digital flood maps. 

EROSION CONTROL MANAGEMENT
Construction Site Runoff


The Town of Smithfield’s construction site runoff control program is intended to reduce pollutants in stormwater runoff from construction activities disturbing one or more acres of land surface and those activities less than one acre that are part of a larger common plan of development. Additionally, it provides procedures for public input, sanctions to ensure compliance, requirements for construction site operators to implement appropriate erosion and sediment control practices, review of site plans which incorporates consideration of potential water quality impacts, and procedures for site inspection and enforcement of control measures. The Town also has requirements for construction site operators to control waste such as discarded building materials, concrete truck washout, chemicals, litter, and sanitary waste at the construction site that may cause adverse impacts to water quality.

The Town of Smithfield relies on the State of North Carolina, Department of Environment & Natural Resource, Division of Energy, Mineral, and Land Resources program to comply with minimum control measures. Additionally, the Town of Smithfield conducts random inspections of local land disturbing activities that have a sediment and erosion permit issued by State, for compliance. Finally, potential problems at construction sites with sediment and erosion control permits are reported to Department of Environment & Natural Resource and any follow-up actions are monitored and documented.

Potential sediment and erosion control violations should be reported to the Town via the Stormwater Hotline (919-934-2116). The report can also be made directly to town of Smithfield Planning Department.

 

HOW YOU CAN HELP

 

There are numerous simple steps property owners can take to help prevent erosion of the local drainage system.

 

  • Avoid dumping yard waste in or near local waterways. Not only is this action illegal, but it also is very detrimental to the drainage system.
  • Do not deposit yard waste in the gutters. Yard waste should be placed behind the curb on the yard side when placed for pick up.
  • Refrain from mowing to the edge of a waterway that may be adjacent to your property. Heavier vegetation at the edges of the waterway helps to reduce and filter stormwater runoff that ultimately accelerates erosion.

 

WATERSHED PROTECTION


The Town of Smithfield Watershed Protection Ordinance can be found in Article 10, Part IX of the Unified Development Ordinance and is designed is to regulate development and land use activities in a manner which will limit exposure of water supply watersheds to pollution. Sources of pollution include leachate from septic tank nitrification fields, storm water runoff, accidental spillage from residential, commercial, and industrial activities, and discharge of process and cooling water, among others. As required by the Water Supply Watershed Protection Act of 1989, the State of North Carolina has reclassified each of the state’s drinking water supply watersheds to its most appropriate classification. The Neuse River watershed is classified as “WS-IV” which are protected water supply watersheds which are generally moderate to highly developed. Water Supply Watershed protection is a proactive approach to the preservation and treatment of drinking water supplies rather than a reactive approach of treatment prior to consumption.

Town of Smithfield and its extraterritorial jurisdiction are divided into the following Water Supply Watershed Protection Overlay Districts: 

WS-IV-CA — Critical Area Overlay District
WS-IV-PA — Protected Area Overlay District

Methods used to protect the Town of Smithfield drinking water supply within critical and protected watershed areas include:

Limits on certain land uses as per State mandated rules;
Decreased density and additional built-upon limits;
Increased buffer areas; and
Modified designs that are proven to be environmentally responsible.

STREAM AND RIVER PROTECTION


The vegetated area closest to the body of water stabilizes the streambank and provides shade and habitat for aquatic life. The vegetation also acts like a filter and sponge to remove, transform, or store nutrients and other pollutants. The outer reaches of the vegetated buffer slow and spread out the flow of water over the land, trapping sediment and attached pollutants. 

These areas are known as riparian buffers. Riparian buffers filter stormwater runoff before it enters the stream. The vegetation within the buffer absorbs excess nutrients and sediment, controls erosion, moderates water temperature and provides habitat for wildlife. They also provide flood control and protect property. 

In the Neuse River Basin, buffer applies to: intermittent streams, perennial streams, lakes, ponds, estuaries and modified natural streams that are depicted on the most recent printed version of the soil survey map prepared by the Natural Resources Conservation Service OR the 1:24,000 scale quadrangle topographic map prepared by the U.S. Geologic Survey. 

The Town of Smithfield reviews all development proposals for compliance with the Neuse River Riparian buffer rules. Any encroachment into the required buffers by a development proposal will require additional permitting by the North Carolina Division of Water Quality prior to plan approval by the Town of Smithfield.    

 

TREE RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

Tree Preservation. 


The Town of Smithfield Unified Development Ordinance, Article 10 states that vegetation existing on a site at the time of development that is required to be retained in accordance with the provisions of Article 10: PART II, Section 10.9 of the Town’s Unified Development Ordinance and shall be inventoried on a tree survey, performed and certified by a certified Arborist or licensed Forester and submitted as part of the site plan review process.

Protected Trees. The following categories of existing vegetation shall be considered protected and shall be retained as indicated:


Natural Buffers. If existing trees and shrubs on the site where a buffer is required by Section 10.14 meet at least 50% of the required opacity standard, then those trees and shrubs shall be retained for use in buffering and supplemented as needed with plantings, fences, and/or berms to meet the required standards.

Perimeter Trees. Existing trees greater than eight inches in diameter at 4.5 feet in height above grade (DBH) within required buffers or street yards, shall be considered protected and shall be retained in all cases.

Regulated Trees. All regulated trees anywhere on the site shall be considered protected, and shall be preserved to the greatest extent practical and incorporated into required landscaping. Regulated tree removal will be allowed to the extent necessary to allow compliance with the requirements of this Ordinance.

Significant Trees. Hardwood and conifer trees located in perimeter and
street yards at least 24 inches in DBH, and dogwoods, American Hollies and flowering trees at least eight inches DBH, shall be considered protected, and must be preserved or
their removal mitigated as in accordance with Section 10.9.2.3 , regardless of location on
the site, unless the trees are shown to be dead, dying or severely damaged or diseased as a result of natural factors.

 

Mitigation. The removal of any “Significant Tree” as defined by Unified Development Ordinance must be mitigated prior to site plan approval.


Purposeful Damage to Trees Prohibited. It shall be unlawful for any person, corporation or other entity to damage, deface, mutilate, alter, or otherwise cause severe or permanent harm to any tree(s) regulated by this section. Purposeful damage to trees shall include topping and any other practices deemed harmful to trees based upon current forestry practices. Purposeful damage prohibitions also apply to tree re-plantings that are less than a diameter/caliper of eight (8) inches (circumference of 25"). Trees and shrubs which are required to be planted by the Town of Smithfield Unified Development Ordinance cannot be trimmed/cut below the height requirement at planting.
 

Please click on (Prinable Forms and Documents) link to get access to Stormwater forms!
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