Southern Maryland Hosts Critical Areas Forum

A May 12 article summarizes a critical areas forum that was held at the College of Southern Maryland on May 10.

The workshop was moderated by St. Mary’s County Director of Land Use and Growth Management Derick Berlage. The panelists included two Chesapeake Bay Foundation representatives, Maryland Executive Director Kim Coble and an attorney in her office Alison Prost, and two developers, Thomas Farasy, 2010 president of the Maryland State Builders Association, and Guy Curley, past president of the Maryland National Capital Building Industry Association and president of Liberty Homes.
Berlage explained that the legislation provides special protections to the last 100 feet within the mean high water line of tidal waters. He said there are three zones within the critical area, with the least developed, Resource Conservation Area, making up 80 percent of the affected land. The goal, he said, “is keeping that at its natural state as much as possible.”
Berlage listed three challenges with the regulations:
·        The law is very complex and the permitting process even more so.
·        The cost of compliance can be high.
·        Maryland Critical Area staff and county staff don’t always agree on implementation and enforcement.
The panelists offered their opinions on the challenges raised by Mr. Berlage.  Ms. Coble stressed the importance of the regulations for the Chesapeake Bay while Ms. Prost maintained that the regulations were based in science and discussed enforcement challenges.  Mr. Curley discussed future population growth in the Bay watershed and the challenge of making that growth sustainable.  Mr. Farasy expressed concern about the additional requirements needed to meet the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) requirements.

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