Council looks for feedback on bog bill

Pasadena residents can comment tonight

October 25, 2001|By Johnathon E. Briggs | Johnathon E. Briggs,SUN STAFF

Pasadena residents will get a second chance to comment on proposed legislation to tighten development restrictions on land surrounding the county's ecologically rare and fragile bogs at a community meeting tonight.

Three classes of "bog protection areas" that would reduce the amount of development within 300 feet of the ecosystems are included in the proposal from Anne Arundel County Council members Shirley Murphy and Barbara D. Samorajczyk. Their plan also lists required measures to protect the bogs, most of which are on the Mountain Road peninsula, when disturbance is unavoidable.

Murphy said she had planned to introduce the measure at the County Council meeting Sept. 4 but changed her mind after residents raised questions about the bill's language and boundaries of the proposed bog protection areas.

A meeting with the community is scheduled for 7:30 tonight at Lake Shore Fire House, 4496 Mountain Road.

"We want to preserve our environment and want to make sure people who live near bogs can live with these restrictions," said Murphy, a Democrat whose district includes the Pasadena peninsula.

She said that if residents support the measure as it is worded, she will introduce it at the council's meeting Nov. 5.

Murphy said residents have called her office to request copies of the draft legislation and a 12-page map that outlines where their properties are in relation to bog areas.

The move to protect the Pasadena bogs began two years ago, when Magothy River Land Trust and the Mountain Road Peninsula Preservation Committee sought a $7.6 million Rural Legacy grant to buy 1,000 acres for a Magothy River greenway.

The groups were not awarded the grant, but experts discovered more bogs in the area during research for the application.

Since then, state and county officials and environmental groups have sought ways to preserve the bogs.

Bogs are acidic wetlands that provide habitats for rare plants, including giant cane, Maryland's only native bamboo species.

Some of the 10 Mountain Road bogs include endangered animals, cranberries and carnivorous pitcher plants.

Environmental experts describe the Ice Age relics as the "kidneys of the Chesapeake" for their role filtering water on its way to the bay. The peninsula's bogs are interconnected, scientists say.

"These things are very rare. If we preserve them, we also preserve more land on the peninsula," said James Bilenki Jr, co-chairman of the Mountain Road Peninsula Preservation Committee, a group that has worked to limit peninsula growth.

"But residents want to be sure that they're not going to have their property rights taken away from them, that [the legislation] is not so restrictive that they can't do anything with their property" if it's near a bog, he said.

The legislation would create three buffer zones, the first within 100 feet of a bog, another 300 feet away and a third that includes areas in the watershed that drain into the habitats.

Except for decks and sheds up to 150 square feet, development would be prohibited in zones closest to the bogs.

Under the proposal, direct storm-water discharge into the bogs would be prohibited in the drainage area.

The plan would also limit the amount of land in the zones that could be paved.

Murphy said the legislation aims to restrict development on the environmentally sensitive peninsula while not unduly penalizing property owners.

Bilenki said he hopes homeowners realize that living next to a bog can enhance the value of their properties.

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