Soil conservation board, county resolve dispute

August 25, 1994|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Sun Staff Writer

County officials and members of the Anne Arundel Soil Conservation District yesterday resolved their conflict over a proposed bill to revise the law that regulates runoff from construction sites.

The agreement came shortly before a public hearing on the bill by the County Council yesterday.

In ending the conflict, the county agreed to draft two amendments that would specify that the approval of a developer's plan to control runoff would be based on the recommendations of the Soil Conservation District.

Developers must submit storm- water management plans to the county before they receive approval for planned subdivisions and building and grading permits.

Members of the Soil Conservation District's Board of Supervisors had objected to the proposed ordinance because it removed several clauses in the law that spelled out their oversight responsibility to review and comment on a developer's storm-water management plan.

County officials had argued that the bill's focus was extremely narrow, making only technical changes required by the Maryland Department of the Environment, and that even though mention of the agency was deleted in some passages, that did not affect the agency's role.

With the proposed amendments, which will be submitted to the council at its next meeting Sept. 8, the bill is now acceptable to the Soil Conservation District.

"On behalf of the supervisors, I would like to make it known that we in the Soil Conservation District are very supportive of the proposed amendments that have just been discussed," Lina Vlavianos, a district board member, told the County Council during the public hearing.

"We worked very hard to achieve a good ordinance," she said. "I think from here on in we have no further questions, comments or anything in regard to this ordinance."

In a letter sent yesterday to County Executive Robert R. Neall, Lillian M. Griffith, the Soil Conservation District manager, acknowledged that members of the agency mistakenly believed the bill excluded them from reviewing requests for waivers within the critical area, a 100-foot buffer from any shoreline.

County officials pointed out that the bill eliminated all waivers within the critical area.

"We now understand we were wrong and that, in fact, the entire critical area waiver process would be eliminated," Ms. Griffith wrote.

County officials said the Soil Conservation District will be asked to comment on waiver requests for building projects outside the critical area.

John Flood, representing the Anne Arundel Rivers Coalition, helped to mediate the dispute between the county and the Soil Conservation District.

"We think this is a good bill," he told the council. "This bill will be good for our county and will increase the protection currently offered under the law."

Steve Carr, who spoke for the Severn River Association, praised the agreement and singled out Tom Andrews, the county's top environmental official, for making it happen. "I see a recent trend with Mr. Andrews, that we are able to work out our differences," he said.

He added that it is important to maintain environmental oversight during the approval process for building projects.

"It's important that we have as many eyes and ears in this process of storm-water management as we can, from beginning to end," Mr. Carr said.

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