As previously reported on Conduit Street, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) recently released a revised version of its Accounting for Growth (AFG) Policy. The Sustainable Growth and Agricultural Preservation Act of 2012 (SB 236) requires that water quality impacts from new major developments on septic systems in Tier III Growth Tiers be offset and the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) requires similar offset requirements for new development in the Bay watershed. In addition to onsite mitigation, the AFG Policy will include a nutrient credit trading marketplace and potentially a fee in lieu option. The AFG Policy has the potential to seriously affect growth in rural areas and redevelopment projects in urban areas.
MACo submitted comments on the revised AFG Policy proposal to MDE and at a Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission meeting on November 8. The Commission meeting focused on comments and feedback regarding the AFG Policy. MACo’s comments addressed seven key proposed revisions: (1) separating implementation of the SB 236 offsets from the TMDL offsets; (2) offsetting phosphorus in addition to nitrogen; (3) offset applicability; (4) offset loads, redevelopment, and loading factors; (5) permanency and responsibility of offsets; (6) creation of a fee in lieu option; and (7) nutrient credit trading geographies. MACo had significant concerns with several of the proposed revisions and supported several others. Some of the proposed changes that MACo supported were proposed by MACo in earlier submitted comments.