MACo Winter Conference Panel Examines Septic and PlanMaryland Tier Processes

On January 3, a panel of land use experts provided an overview and analysis of the growth tier adoption process under the Sustainable Growth and Agricultural Preservation Act of 2012 (SB 236 – the septic system legislation) and the identification of designated planning areas under PlanMaryland  the at the 2013 MACo Winter Conference.

Maryland Secretary of Planning Richard Hall provided an overview of the growth tier adoption process.  He indicated twelve counties and 49 municipalities have adopted tier maps by December 31.  Sixteen counties have increased their minor subdivision definitions as allowed by the law.

With respect to PlanMaryland, the Secretary indicated that most of the planning area designations will occur within the next six months and the Maryland Department of Planning will be conducting an outreach to the counties.

Calvert County Planning and Zoning Director Charles Johnston offered a county perspective.  He noted that there are many ancillary issues that must also be considered along with the adoption of the growth tiers. Calvert County’s current proposed tier map will result in an average of density 10.6 units per acre.  He also stated that the County had not yet considered its PlanMaryland planning areas but expects to in the next several months.

Elm Street Development Regional Partner and Vice President Russell Dickens provided the perspective of homebuilders and developers and developers.  He stated that the growth tiers seemed more like a land use control rather a pollution control.   He also questioned whether the anticipated nitrogen reductions from the use of best available nitrogen removal technology (BAT) septic systems are worth the costs.

Cecil County Executive Tari Moore was the panel moderator.

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