Revised environmental ordinances win approval

Changes made as part of Carroll growth freeze

April 02, 2004|By Hanah Cho | Hanah Cho,SUN STAFF

The Carroll County commissioners approved revisions yesterday to environment-related ordinances drafted as part of the county's yearlong freeze on residential growth.

The changes affect ordinances regarding forest conservation; floodplain management; storm water management; and grading, erosion and sediment control.

Also, two new ordinances on water resource management and storm sewer system management were adopted. Several of the requirements have been in practice, but the county wanted to formalize them, said County Attorney Kim Millender.

Many of the revisions involved clarifying language or updating the ordinances to reflect new state and federal requirements, county officials said.

"We've been over this quite a number of times," Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge said of the revisions. "This is a reflection of public, state and federal comments."

One proposal on landscaping enhancement was not considered yesterday because county staff had requested more time to review it.

Yesterday's approval continues the county's efforts to overhaul growth-related ordinances as part of the freeze, which expires in June. The commissioners imposed the freeze to give the Planning Department time to revise the county's growth laws.

The freeze interrupted about 90 projects, with 1,700 lots, in various stages of development.

Several people in the development community expressed concerns over the changes, specifically that they would apply to projects held up by the freeze.

"To approve these bills in the midst of a moratorium - it's unfair to hold these people up and then change the rules," said Tom Ballentine, government affairs director for the Homebuilders Association of Maryland.

Most of the environmental ordinances will apply to new subdivision plans during the development review process.

The changes, which take effect Monday, will affect projects that have not received approval from the county's Planning Department, Millender said.

Since the freeze stopped the processing of new subdivision plans, changes to the environmental ordinances will apply to commercial projects and to the development of three or fewer lots.

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