During the board of commissioners’ planning meet held on Monday, March 4, it was revealed the county will reclassify Brownwood Road to be included into the county’s watershed map, though the changes won’t heavily impact the community.
“The reclassification to include the area was prompted by the Boone water intake project,” said Ashe County Planner Adam Stumb.
The Boone water intake project was terminated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) because the Town of Boone didn’t submit all of the requested data and Ashe County didn’t sign off on the project. However, the process for changing the watershed map was already underway for the Brownwood area, and will continue even though the intake project has been halted.
According to Stumb, these changes to the Brownwood community are not expected to heavily impact the area.
“If you have property, you probably won’t notice a difference,” said Stumb. He also said property used for agriculture will not be impacted. However, the reclassification could affect new developments in the area.
The new watershed area places new restrictions on commercial businesses; their buildings and parking cannot exceed 24 percent of each lot of land.
The watershed map has been divided into two areas, a critical area and a protected area, for which the regulations slightly differ.
The critical area includes land .5 mile upstream of the water sources, making it the closet area to the water intake or source.
“Because it is so close, it is also the area with the strictest regulations on development,” said Stumb.
The protected area is land that is within 10 miles and upstream of the water sources. These regulations are not quite as strict as the critical area.
“The whole idea of the watershed ordinance is to protect a drinking water source,” said Stumb. “Usually the ordinance puts limitations on houses per acre and how much area a development can cover and also protective buffers along streams and rivers. These limitations help keep pollutants from getting in the streams and out of our drinking water.”
The changes to the watershed map will go into effect upon adoption of the map from the county commissioners. However, if the map isn’t adopted, regulations will still become effective by March 30.