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Missouri DNR declares Springfield a qualifying local program for land disturbance permitting.
courtesy of CITY OF SPRINGFIELD
Missouri DNR declares Springfield a qualifying local program for land disturbance permitting.

New designation for city removes a step in development process

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Last updated 12:46 p.m. on March 14. [Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify information about municipal separate stormwater system certification, or MS4, permitting.]

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has approved the city of Springfield as a qualifying local program for land disturbance permitting, saving a step in the permitting process for developers.

Springfield is the first city in the state to be granted the QLP designation, which allows developers to bypass the requirement to obtain a land disturbance permit from the state of Missouri for projects within the city limits. Beginning March 1, the city’s land disturbance permit will certify that federal and state stormwater runoff requirements are met.

An announcement by the city indicates developers are no longer required to provide a copy of their state land disturbance permit during the city’s review process. The other requirements of the city permit remain unchanged, officials said, and construction sites will need to continue with erosion and sediment controls and other stormwater pollution prevention measures that meet or exceed state requirements.

Carrie Lamb, water quality compliance officer through the city’s Environmental Services department, said MDNR is the delegated authority from the federal Environmental Protection Agency to serve over land disturbance regulations, which control sediment and stormwater runoff under the Clean Water Act. Federal regulations allow the option of municipalities being given the QLP designation to handle permitting for all three levels.

“To make that an option here in Missouri, the Department of Natural Resources needed to propose state rulemaking,” Lamb said. “There were several steps in the process to make that an option for local communities like Springfield. We really appreciate DNR’s efforts to see that through.”

Now, Lamb said, there is an option for local communities who have an Municipal Separate Stormwater System, or MS4, permit like Springfield’s to apply for and receive the QLP designation for their land disturbance program.

“Springfield is the first community to pursue that and get approved,” she said. “It’s a benefit for those needing to obtain a land disturbance permit.”

In the past, developers had to submit an online form and await approval for the state permit while also submitting a plan to the city.

“Our process was a little more involved, which is typical for a local program,” Lamb said. “The idea behind that duplication is that the local authority – city or county – is going to be a lot more familiar, so it makes sense for us to have a lot more in-depth review and oversight.”

Lamb said Springfield is the first to get the designation because city officials asked DNR to pursue the rulemaking to make it happen.

“We’ve been pursuing this for a couple of years now,” she said. “It will be interesting to see if others pursue it.”

The city had to demonstrate to DNR that the city code met specific requirements of the state’s land disturbance permit, Lamb said. DNR also wanted to see that an effective review process was in place for inspecting sites.

“We do inspections after we issue the permit to make sure sites are in compliance,” Lamb said. “That was one of the primary things we needed to show.”

Lamb said the change was initiated a few years ago, when the Home Builders Association of Greater Springfield and others in the development community requested that the city look into options to solve the duplication in permitting.

While the online application with the state did not take long, eliminating that step is an efficiency for developers, according to Lamb.

“There definitely is a time savings,” she said.

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