China Grove weighs future of town’s stormwater program

Published 2:22 pm Wednesday, November 4, 2020

CHINA GROVE — The current and future state of the town’s stormwater program was addressed during a town council meeting on Tuesday night.

During an audit by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality on Oct. 6, China Grove was found in violation of several standards required by its national pollution discharge elimination permit. As a result, the China Grove Town Council passed a resolution Tuesday night stating that the town is committed to the stormwater program and that the program will receive adequate funding and staffing.

Despite being found in violation, China Grove Assistant Town Manager Franklin Gover said that the stormwater program is in relatively good shape and is poised to be a “model” community for other other towns.

Having a stormwater plan is important, Gover said, because stormwater is untreated water that eventually runs off into streams and other bodies of water. Having a strong stormwater program prevents that water from carrying harmful pollutants or litter with it, Gover said.

DEQ was impressed by the public information and education aspect of China Grove’s stormwater program, Gover said, as well as the town’s website

Areas where China Grove needs to improve its program include creating written procedures for reporting illicit discharges and construction site runoff, improving the program’s social media presence and cleaning up existing threats that could pollute stormwater such as an old oil barrel on municipal property that hasn’t been properly contained.

To improve its stormwater program, China Grove will eventually need to invest more money, Gover said. Council members discussed ways to fund the stormwater program in the future, including potentially increasing tax revenues or introducing a stormwater fee that would be paid by citizens. While Rowan-Salisbury Utilities has long had a stormwater fee, China Grove has steered clear of imposing a fee for years.

“We have avoided fees since I have been on here for almost 12 years,” Councilman Brandon Linn said. “I look other municipalities and the fees that we have and I’m glad to say we have avoided that.”

But with the town’s stormwater program in need of more resources, that could change.

“We’re coming down the pipeline to where we’re eventually going to have some fees, as much as I don’t like it,” Councilman Don Bringle said.

Currently, the program is managed by existing town staff members, but eventually China Grove may consider hiring a part-time staff member to assist with the stormwater program.

Even though the DEQ won’t conduct another audit on China Grove’s stormwater program for another five years, Gover said he wants the town to be in full compliance by July 2022. If the town isn’t in compliance by the time the DEQ conducts another audit, it could mean a significant monetary fine of around $40,000 per day. Gover doesn’t expect the town to ever receive those fines.

“We’re pretty well set up and if we continue on path our next audit in five years will go pretty well,” Gover said.

In other meeting business:

• Kristina Whitfield, a transportation engineer at the Raleigh-based planning and design consulting firm Kimley-Horn, presented council members with the results of the firm’s study of the U.S. Highway 29 corridor.

Kimley-Horn conducted a survey of about 95 China Grove residents to determine what they thought of the corridor and what they envision for the future as the area continues to grow and become busier. The firm also developed guidelines for how China Grove should approach the corridor.

Suggestions included allowing mixed-use in the district so that it may be more pedestrian friendly, changing the approach on parking so that massive parking lots aren’t only in front of stores, creating more dynamic landscaping and buffering standards and developing stronger design standards for buildings.

Whitfield painted a picture of what the U.S. Highway 29 corridor could look like, saying that it could feature greenways, pedestrian bike paths and signage that would welcome travelers when they are entering downtown China Grove. Although the North Carolina Department of Transportation will have the most influence over the future of the corridor, Whitfield said that her firm’s plan would serve as a “toolbox” that could provide future leverage for China Grove. She also encouraged the town of China Grove to “coordinate, coordinate, coordinate” with the NCDOT.

Gover said that people shouldn’t expect to see significant progress along the corridor for another 15-20 years. The China Grove Town Council will consider adopting the Highway 29 corridor plan at its meeting in December.

• The China Grove Town Council approved a motion to reduce the speed limit on Kirk Street to 25 miles per hour after receiving a petition from residents who live along the road. Mayor Charles Seaford said that residents can expect the speed limit signs on the road to be changed out within the next 30-45 days.

• Council members adopted an ordinance to close Main Street for the Southern Rowan Christmas Parade, which is scheduled to take place on the afternoon of Tuesday, Nov. 24.

• Council members adopted a resolution to fix a date of public hearing for the annexation of Rowan County tax parcel 119-006, a single-family home that has requested annexation to attach to the town’s sewer system.

• Council members adopted a resolution to fix a date of public hearing for the annexation of Rowan County tax parcel 117-132, a single-family home that has voluntarily requested annexation to attach to the town’s sewer system.

About Ben Stansell

Ben Stansell covers business, county government and more for the Salisbury Post. He joined the staff in August 2020 after graduating from the University of Alabama. Email him at

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