Environmental board supports changes in forest ordinance

March 31, 1994|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Sun Staff Writer

Carroll County's Environmental Affairs Advisory Board lent its support yesterday to changing the county forest conservation ordinance to avoid a repetition of problems with the law faced by a Finksburg construction company and a New Windsor developer.

The board recommended four amendments to the county commissioners, including two prompted by an opinion from the county attorney that said the current law includes off-conveyances and subdivisions approved as long ago as 1970.

"We're not going to make a Christmas tree out of this thing" with goodies for any developer who wants a change in the ordinance, said Neil Ridgely, the county's forest program manager "It's not watering down the ordinance one iota."

Kibler Construction Co. of Finksburg currently is appealing the ordinance's requirements to the commissioners, but the commissioners have not yet announced when they plan to vote.

Kibler contends that it should be required to meet tree planting and preservation requirements only for a 1.4-acre site where it plans a new building, not for its full 25-acre property.

The ordinance change proposed yesterday by County Attorney Charles W. Thompson and Mr. Ridgely would reduce the acreage used in calculating forestation requirements for commercial and industrial properties. Instead of the full property, the county government would base the requirements on the construction site acreage.

The other proposed changes:

* Developers could meet the forest ordinance requirements in incorporated towns by planting street trees. The commissioners have supported such a change since developer David Bullock learned in April 1993 that he couldn't meet forestation requirements for a planned New Windsor retirement village by donating money to the town's Tree City U.S.A. program. The town would be required to take care of the trees.

* Off-conveyances -- the two lots per parcel of land that owners are allowed to sell without going through the county's subdivision process -- would be exempt from the forest conservation ordinance unless an owner graded or disturbed more than 15,000 square feet per lot.

* Developers who had submitted preliminary plans to the county by July 1, 1991, or had final plans approved before the ordinance became effective Dec. 31, 1992, would not have to meet its requirements.

Mr. Thompson interpreted the ordinance to mean that the plans would be exempt from forest surveys, but a developer who did any grading after the Dec. 31, 1992, deadline would be required to meet the tree planting requirements.

The county attorney said the commissioners will have to schedule a public hearing before they can act on the proposed amendments.

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