MACo Associate Director Les Knapp was joined by Candace Donoho of the Maryland Municipal League and Critical Area Commission Chair Margaret McHale in opposing HB 278 before the House Environmental Matters Committee on February 17. The bill, sponsored by Delegate Tony McConkey, would require a local jurisdiction to inspect a lot or parcel that is in the jurisdiction’s critical area at the request of a prospective purchaser to determine if a critical area violation exists. If no violation is discovered or any discovered violation is remedied, the purchaser is not liable for critical area criminal or civil penalties for a subsequently discovered violation that occurred before the time of inspection.
Noting the time and complexity of conducting the inspections, the panel argued that the bill would shift limited local government staff from a resource conservation role to a primarily inspection role. They also noted that such inspections can be handled by private parties. Ms. McHale also expressed concern about how a subsequently discovered violation would be addressed if the prospective purchaser had purchased the home and was now not liable for the violation.