Hoping to reduce storm water runoff into Chesapeake Bay tributaries, Annapolis Mayor Ellen O. Moyer has proposed one of the state's toughest limits for impervious surfaces, such as parking lots and roofs, on redeveloped properties.
Under the ordinance introduced at Monday's City Council meeting, those redeveloping property, with some exceptions, would be required to cut by 50 percent the amount of existing surface area that does not absorb or filter water.
State law and city code now require a 20 percent reduction for redeveloped properties.
Moyer, who is in Utah at a three-day mayor's summit on climate protection, said this is the first step in reducing the amount of impervious surface area in Annapolis to 20 percent from 42 percent over the next decade.
"This is all about clean water and clean air and the quality of life. A healthy environment makes healthy people," Moyer said. "We want to move to the next level in protecting our resources."
Impervious surfaces create runoff because water can't seep into the ground - instead it collects pollutants, runs into gutters and drains, and ends up in streams.
Last month, the city adopted recommendations by an energy efficiency task force, including performing a comprehensive municipal energy audit, purchasing hybrid vehicles and increasing recycling rates.
The city also will encourage "green roofs," which filter rainwater and reduce runoff by as much as 75 percent, studies show. Already, a police station addition and a building at Back Creek Nature Park have green roofs, as does the new Severn Bank building.
The ordinance came the same day as a report by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation that found the bay is suffering from pollution linked mostly to storm water runoff. The bay earned a health score of 29 out of 100 from the foundation, up from 27 last year.
"We want to encourage low-impact development because Annapolis is right on the water," said Frank Biba, chief of environmental programs at the city's Department of Neighborhood and Environmental Programs. "We want to reduce the volume that goes down into the bay and improve the quality of water that runs into the streets, because everything ends up in the streams and the bay."