Stormwater Management Legislation Produces Differing Views

As recently reported by Conduit Street, legislation has been introduced to alter the grandfathering and redevelopment provisions of the Maryland Department of the Environment’s (MDE) new stormwater management regulations, which are set to take effect May 4, 2010.  HB 1125, sponsored by Delegate Marvin Holmes, is set to be heard by the House Environmental Matters Committee on March 3 at 1:00 PM.  A Senate bill, sponsored by Senator Ed DeGrange and other members of the Senate leadership is expected to be introduced soon.

The regulations will require developers to use environmental site design (ESD) techniques, such as vegetated swales, rain gardens, green roofs, and pervious surfaces to treat stormwater runoff.  MACo supports the use of ESD techniques where feasible and does not have an issue with most of the regulations.  However, MACo, along with the Maryland Municipal League and the development community, has serious concerns about the impact the regulations would have on:  (1) projects already “in the pipeline,” including long-term staged development projects; and (2) redevelopment and revitalization projects, which are necessary for Smart Growth.  A panel of MACo and county representatives raised their concerns at a January 15 forum hosted by the Task Force on the Future of Growth and Development in Maryland.  See prior Conduit Street posting.

MDE claims that guidance documents it is preparing will give local governments and the development community the flexibility needed to ensure that grandfathering and redevelopment concerns can be addressed.  MACo remains concerned that the guidance documents, which do not have the force of law and cannot override the provisions of the regulations, may not fully address these valid county concerns.

Recently Center Maryland has published a series of op-ed responses from the environmental and development community:

Viewpoint of South River Federation (February 11)

Viewpoint of Chesapeake Bay Foundation (February 12)

Viewpoint of Maryland State Builders Association (February 17)

And the opinion section of the Baltimore Sun has also included views on the matter, including one from Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith.

UPDATE 2010-02-22:  A February 18 Baltimore Sun article on HB 1125.

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