Septic Implementation Debate Continues with Public Hearings

The Gazette reports on continuing discussion regarding county implementation of the septic tiers required under the Sustainable Growth and Agricultural Preservation Act of 2012. That legislation, most commonly referenced as the “septics bill,” was passed to require local governments seeking to authorize certain levels of development outside public sewer service to designate specific tiers for that allowance. Counties not adopting such a tier system would not be able to authorize such “major” development – a threshold that varies by county, but is set at no more than 8 residential units by the state law.

From the Gazette coverage:

Furthermore, some of the maps are “problematic,” so the administration of Gov. Martin O’Malley is considering its options to get governments to comply, said Jason Dubow, environmental planning director for the Maryland Department of Planning.

Both carrots and sticks are being considered, including programs and funding sources, Planning Secretary Richard E. Hall said Thursday.

Options for taking the counties to court also are being examined, including whether the governor could have the attorney general sue, or the state might join as a plaintiff if an advocacy group sued, Hall said.

New legislation might be filed, “but I don’t think there’s a lot of appetite for that,” Hall said. “What I most hope happens is we work with the counties to come up with a map we can live with.”

Hall said his agency managed to “talk through” problems it had with the early maps of several counties before arriving at “not the map we would have drawn but … a map that made sense.”

Cecil County public hearing information

The Maryland Department of Planning website contains extensive information about the implementation of the 2012 law.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties
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