Forest Ordinance Is Debated

April 01, 1992|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff writer

A committee writing the county's forest conservation ordinance wrestled yesterday with several objections raised by the commissioners.

The commissioners, who did not attend the meeting, objected primarily to having the state-mandated ordinance apply to people cutting or clearing as little as 10,000 square feet and to a $1-per-square-foot fee that could be collected in lieu of preserving or replanting forests when hardships occur.

The commissioners are unwilling to accept the committee's 10,000-square-foot requirement, said Assistant County Attorney Michele Ostrander, who relayed their concerns to the committee.

Frank Grabowski, committee chair, said he planned to write a formal letter to the commissioners addressing their concerns.

"I believe we are substantially finished with our work," Grabowski said. "(Their concerns) won'tsubstantially affect the (work) we have completed."

Ostrander said the commissioners preferred the state's plan, which would apply theordinance to areas of 40,000 square feet or more. The committee reached a preliminary consensus yesterday on 20,000 square feet or more as a compromise.

In developing a forest conservation plan, the county must be at least as stringent as the state.

The commissioners also objected to the committee's proposed $1-per-square-foot reforestation fee when developers are not able to preserve or replant. Commissioners wanted to know the actual cost of replanting property. The county would use the money collected within two years to reforest an equal-size area.

"It's a very big issue," Ostrander said. "It's not abig surprise."

During discussion, though, the panel was hard-pressed to reach a more acceptable "in lieu of" fee. The 10-cents-per-square-foot fee proposed by the state was deemed too little by some committee members.

Carroll's proposed plan, committee members said, concentrates on preserving the county's forests.

Tom Ballentine, wholast week joined the panel to represent the Home Builders Association of Maryland, balked at the $1 fee. He said the figure exceeds the actual cost of planting trees.

Theresa Bamberger, a Mount Airy townplanner, also was appointed to the committee last week.

Commissioners also preferred state language in other areas, such as exemptions.

The committee is working against an April 30 deadline to submit the county's proposal to the state.

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