A Baltimore developer has won permission from a Harford zoning examiner to disturb 3.19 acres of non-tidal wetlands and buffer land to build a 148 apartments in Edgewood.
The Henry J. Knott Development Corp. sought the variance of a county zoning law that prohibits developers from disturbing non-tidal wetlands or surrounding buffer zones.
A non-tidal wetland area is ground above the high-tide mark of the nearest body of water. The project, on a 19.2 acre tract near the intersection of Route 24 and Hanson Road, would affect a small section of non-tidal wetlands more than 4,000 feet southwest of Otter Point Creek.
The tract includes 6.9 acres of non-tidal wetlands, but .29 acres would be disturbed by the project.
About 2.9 acres of a 75-foot buffer area separating the non-tidal wetlands areas from the property also would be affected. About 40 percent of the buffer area would be replanted around the apartments, according to the plan Knott filed with the Department of Planning and Zoning.
"Some wetlands are more environmentally important than others," said William G. Carroll, director of the county's planning and zoning department. "This was a marginal area, and there would be minimal disturbance, so we recommended approval, with conditions."
The conditions imposed by the planning and zoning department include:
* Alterations to the plan may be approved by the planning and zoning department, provided no additional wetlands or buffer area are disturbed.
* Grading and disturbance within the non-tidal wetlands and buffer areas will be limited to what Knott proposed in preliminary plans for the project submitted to the county.
* Sediment control measures will be designed and installed to minimize potential pollution of wetland areas. The sediment control plan is subject to approval by the Department of Planning and Zoning and the Department of Public Works.
* A detailed landscaping plan must be submitted for review and approval by the planning and zoning department prior to final plat review.
* Before building permits are issued, Knott must agree to post a three-year letter of credit that would guarantee plantings the company replaces within the wetlands and buffer area. The financial guarantee would be sufficient to pay for purchasing and planting the vegetation. Unless the Dec. 13 hearing examiner's recommendation is appealed to the County Council -- which also sits as the Board of Zoning Appeals -- Knott would be able to proceed with the project Jan. 2.