Closed session held on forest law NORTH -- Manchester * Hampstead * Lineboro

December 03, 1992|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff Writer

Two Carroll commissioners met in closed session yesterday to discuss whether a proposed forest conservation ordinance applies to subdivision plans submitted by Manchester developer Martin K.P. Hill.

The closed session was yet another in recent string of meetings in which the commissioners have discussed what appear to be public issues behind closed doors. But county attorneys have maintained that the closed meetings are legal.

In a letter to Commissioner Donald I. Dell last week, Mr. Hill, a vocal opponent of Carroll's proposed forest conservation ordinance, accused a "[county] staff person [of] making arbitrary interpretations of county policy and law."

Mr. Hill was referring to Neil Ridgely, Carroll's program manager for landscaping and forest conservation. Mr. Ridgely has deemed the developer's plans for section five of North Carroll Farms in Hampstead incomplete because they do not contain "forest stand delineation" plans.

A forest stand delineation plan is a sort of map of the size and species of existing trees and plays a role in subdivision design, lot layouts and forest conservation requirements.

Under state law, all subdivision plans that did not get preliminary approval before July 1, 1991, must have a forest stand delineation plan. Subdivision plans receiving final approval before Dec. 31, 1992, would be exempt.

As a result, some subdivision plans are being returned to developers, surveyors and engineers as incomplete. Mr. Ridgely recommended that Hampstead officials treat Mr. Hill's plans that way.

The county reviews all development plans for compliance with the landscape and forest conservation laws for all Carroll municipalities.

The state-mandated law, something Carroll officials have been wrestling with for more than a year, is aimed at preserving forests.

Mr. Hill wrote in a letter dated Nov. 30 that "at this time there is no law to follow or enforce." The commissioners are expected to adopt the ordinance Tuesday; the law is expected to take effect in January.

Commissioners Dell and Elmer C. Lippy met in closed session with county attorneys George A. Lahey and Michelle Ostrander yesterday for about an hour.

Ms. Ostrander said the commissioners discussed the proposed law, including its applicability to Mr. Hill's subdivision plans. They did not make any decisions, she said.

Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy declined to discuss the issue. "That would defeat the purpose of our meeting," he said. Neither Mr. Ridgely nor James E. Slater, administrator of the county's Office of Environmental Services, was allowed to attend the meeting.

Mr. Hill has submitted concept plans for section five of North Carroll Farms, which calls for 32 lots on 31 acres off Greenmount Church Road.

County officials have described the tract as heavily wooded.

"We don't know the quality of trees until we see the forest stand delineation," Mr. Ridgely said. "Other subdivisions have been treated the same. They have gone the extra mile to provide forest stand delineation."

Mr. Ridgely said that if his office doesn't tell developers now about forest conservation law requirements, the alternative is tell them in January, which would mean some expensive re-engineering on their parts.

"Trees have to be considered an environmental feature to be retained on the site, like wetlands," Mr. Ridgely said. "You can't ignore their existence."

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.