WINFIELD -- Engineers, landscapers and foresters came to a public workshop on Carroll's proposed forest conservation ordinance not to debate the philosophy behind the law but the mechanics in complying with it.
"I'm 100 percent in favor of the ordinance," said Len Wrabel, a Westminster forester who was among about a dozen people who attended the meeting Wednesday at South Carroll High School. "I like it."
Mr. Wrabel and others raised concerns about technicalities, including the size and species of trees required for reforestation and how existing forests on flood plains would fit into any reforestation efforts.
County officials welcomed their concerns, conceding there were technical areas to be worked out within both the proposed ordinance and its accompanying forest conservation manual.
The manual was drafted to help builders and others draw up blueprints for reforestation and tree management. "It's the technical things that need to get ironed out," said Neil Ridgely, program manager for landscaping and forest conservation in the county's Office of Environmental Services.
Under Carroll's proposal, people who disturb 25,000 square feet or more of land must comply with the state-mandated ordinance that aims to preserve Maryland's dwindling forests. They will be required to develop a reforestation plan to replace trees cut down during development and tend them for about two years to ensure that the new trees are growing properly.
Because of the audience's obvious concern with environmental issues, county officials skipped a planned presentation extolling the virtues of trees and forests, which are deemed beneficial in preventing erosion, improving air and water quality and providing habitat for animals.
According to state officials, Maryland is losing about 10,000 acres of forests a year, largely due to construction activities.
About 25 percent of Carroll is forested, county officials said.
In drafting the ordinance, a committee comprised of citizens, environmentalists and a builder sought to require developers who cannot replant trees to pay a fee to the county for reforestation efforts elsewhere.
The commissioners, however, deleted the fee -- 50 cents for each square foot of land cleared -- earlier this month. Under the revised proposal, a developer who doesn't want to replace trees can go to the state and pay 10 cents per square foot of land cleared in lieu of replanting. The money would be earmarked for reforestation efforts in Carroll. Developers would have to prove to county and state officials that reforestation on a tract is not feasible.
Exemptions to the reforestation requirements include public construction, such as roadways, agricultural activities, and most public utility rights-of-way.
Subdivisions of more than 15,000 square feet in agricultural zones would be required to plant a tree for every one that is uprooted.
A second public workshop is scheduled at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Westminster High School auditorium. A public hearing will be held there at 7 p.m. Oct. 5.
County officials hope to have the commissioners adopt the ordinance by the end of October.