Law closing development loopholes tops agenda

July 06, 1993|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Staff Writer

A revised critical areas law that closes loopholes for subdivisions approved before 1985 will get a second hearing tonight before the County Council.

The new law, which received the approval of several county environmental groups at a public hearing two weeks ago, attempts to address the concerns of the state Critical Areas Commission.

Last month, the state commission imposed a 90-day moratorium on new grading permits in the critical areas, which include the county's shoreline and wetlands.

The state commission objected to a provision in the county law that allows subdivisions approved before 1985 to comply with the law "insofar as possible." The old law also entirely exempted 24 subdivisions on the Broadneck peninsula that had been placed on a waiting list for sewer connection.

The new law mandates a 50-foot buffer to nontidal wetlands -- twice the state requirement. It also bans construction within 100 feet of the water on lots approved before Dec. 1, 1985.

At a public hearing two weeks ago, Dr. Sarah J. Taylor, executive director of the state critical area commission, said she believed the revised law met the concerns of the commission.

The commission has not officially met, however, to consider the revised law.

The council will also consider a resolution introduced by Council members David G. Boschert and Virginia Clagett requesting that the county's delegation to the General Assembly draft legislation allowing the disclosure of pensions benefits of public officials.

State law prohibits disclosure of information on the pension benefits of certain elected and appointed officials at both the state and local levels.

The resolution comes in the wake of revelations that the county's pension fund for elected and appointed officials has become seriously under-funded due to some overly generous provisions that authorized retirement at age 50 if the person had 16 years of service.

Under state law, state employees can transfer all their years of service to the county pension system without contributing anything, meaning that some people were able to take advantage of the county plan despite having worked in Anne Arundel a short time.

At the meeting two weeks ago, the council passed a law that allows retirement with pension at 55, but only if an official has 30 years of service. The new law also rewards those with longer service by granting a higher benefit percentage to those who have served more than 10 years.

The council will meet at 7:30 p.m. in its chambers at the Arundel Center in Annapolis.

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