Commission relaxes rules for building near shore Small changes allowed not far from water's edge

January 05, 1996|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

The Porter family wanted to build a swimming pool at its Seneca Creek Marina in eastern Baltimore County, but had been stymied for 18 months by strict regulations protecting the Chesapeake Bay from shoreline development.

But a change approved this week by the state's Chesapeake Bay Critical Areas Commission for the county's 173 miles of shoreline has given a boost to the plans of the Porters and more than 100 other waterfront property owners who have applied to build near the water.

"Our marina is family oriented," Joy Porter said yesterday, explaining that the pool was needed to keep customers who like to spend weekends on their boats, but often don't leave the 106-slip facility. "We need amenities for the children."

Carl Hobson, president of the Millers Island Edgemere Business Association, also hailed the change. "The waters in this area are too polluted for children to swim in," he said, adding that pools are needed and often are built in defiance of the shoreline law.

Other property owners who have waterfront homes or businesses are in the same boat, so to speak, according to local politicians, business owners and George Perdikakis, the county's new director of environmental protection.

The new rules will make the law more flexible, he said, by allowing people to make small changes 25 to 100 feet from the water's edge in exchange for planting trees or bushes or making other improvements that would help the bay.

For the most part, he said, the projects sought are swimming pools, decks or home enlargements. Nothing would be allowed within 25 feet of the water, he said, adding that there were no opponents at a Dec. 20 public hearing on the rules change at North Point library.

The change has been a goal of the current and former county administrations, which received frequent complaints from people barred by the 1987 critical areas law from such plans as enlarging a house to accommodate a growing family or building on a waterfront lot that had been purchased for retirement.

"We actually had a grown man who cried," Dundalk's County Councilman Louis L. DePazzo said.

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