Tree planting plan still rouses debate

October 07, 1992|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff Writer

The final public hearing on Carroll County's proposed forest conservation ordinance drew the same arguments Monday night for and against efforts to conserve and plant more trees.

Developers, as they had before, opposed the state-mandated ordinance. They said regulations requiring them to retain trees or plant new ones would be costly.

Planners, environmentalists and workers in related fields urged the county commissioners to adopt the proposed plan, which, among other things, would require anyone who disturbs 25,000 square feet or more of land to draft a plan to replace any trees felled during development.

"Our organization believes this [ordinance] is far too inflexible and far too expensive," said Tom Ballentine, of the Home Builders Association of Maryland, who served on a committee that drafted the proposed ordinance.

Mr. Ballentine and developers said any costs incurred by developers in retaining and planting trees would ultimately be passed onto homebuyers.

"The state law is fairer," said Martin K. P. Hill, a Manchester developer who has been a vocal opponent of Carroll's efforts.

Mr. Hill and others urged the commissioners to adopt the state's ordinance, which they said would be less restrictive and less costly.

But Noreen Cullen, of Carroll Earth Care, urged the commissioners to adopt the ordinance because "we owe it to our grandchildren to preserve our forests."

State officials who attended the hearing said Carroll's ordinance is more restrictive on some issues and less on others than the state's plan, in which developers may pay a fee in lieu of replacing the trees. They said the state Department of Natural Resources has given Carroll's plan conditional approval.

Jeff Horan, who is coordinating implementation of the forest conservation law throughout Maryland, said Carroll's proposal encourages good site development, which saves developers money and gives everyone a better product.

Some developers contended at the hearing that the county's forest coverage increased during the past decade.

State officials said that while that may be the case, Carroll has the lowest percentage of forested ground of any county in the state.

County officials have said 23 percent of Carroll is forested.

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