With a state-imposed deadline two weeks away, the Carroll commissioners yesterday said they are "very close" to approving a county forestconservation ordinance.
The commissioners left a two-hour meetingyesterday with the Environmental Affairs Advisory Board with two issues still unresolved:
* How much the county should charge developers who, for whatever reasons, are not able to preserve or replant forested land.
* Whatshould the qualifications be for the person who prepares forest conservation plans.
"We're getting awfully close," said Commissioner Elmer Lippy.
Commissioner President Donald I. Dell said he and Lippy would meet with Commissioner Julia W. Gouge, who was absent yesterday, and the county staff to address those two issues.
The county'sproposed ordinance -- which must be at least as stringent as the state's -- must be submitted by April 30. Carroll's proposed plan, advisory board members said, concentrates on preserving the county's limited forests.
The advisory board has recommended the county charge afee in lieu of reforestation of 67-cents per square foot. The board had initially proposed a $1 per-square-foot reforestation fee, but the commissioners balked at that price.
Dell said the fee should reflect the actual costs of reforestation. The board's proposed fee, he said, was too high and would prompt developers to pass the costs on to home buyers.
"We want developers to be able to build reasonable and quality homes here," Dell said. "The costs will just be passed onto the home buyer."
The state's reforestation fee is 10 cents persquare foot, but the advisory board has said that fee is too low.
"This fee has to be above what it is going to cost developers," saidTheresa Bamberger, a Mount Airy town planner and an advisory board member.
If not, she said, the county will find itself in the business of reforestation and the headaches that go along with that. Developers, she said, would opt to pay the fee if it was no more than the actual cost of reforestation -- just to avoid the additional effort.
In the other matter, the advisory board has recommended that a registered forester draw up forest conservation plans.
The commissioners said the qualification was too restrictive. But they agreed with advisory board members that the state's plan -- which would allow a licensed forester, landscape architect or other qualified professional to draw up plans -- was too broad.
"We wonder whether there are enough professionals out there to do the process in a timely fashion," Dell said. "We don't want to hold up developers and have them pass costs on to home buyers."