Frederick County Announces Agreement on Septic Tier Map

A February 15 Frederick News-Post article announces an agreement between Frederick County and the Maryland Department of Planning (MDP) over the county’s septic system growth tier map.  As previously reported by Conduit Street, MDP had raised concerns with the county’s initial map.  Under the Sustainable Growth and Agricultural Preservation Act of 2012 (SB 236), a county may adopt a growth tier map that divides its lands into 4 tiers that set where development on septic systems occur.  If a county chooses not to adopt a tier map, the county is prohibited from authorizing major developments on septic systems.  While MDP does not have the ability to approve the tier maps, it can comment and require that a public hearing be held to discuss its concerns.

The article also notes that with the agreement, Frederick County may qualify for an exemption that would allow for limited additional development in the most restrictive tier, Tier IV, because of the county’s strong rural zoning.

“I think it’s an astounding success,” Commissioner Paul Smith said Thursday.  …

State planning officials said the map did not meet the spirit of the law.  [Frederick Commissioner President Blaine] Young and Eric Soter, director of the county’s community planning division, met Tuesday with Richard Hall, state secretary of planning, to discuss the county’s position. By the end of the meeting, Soter and Young said, Hall was convinced that Frederick County would qualify for the [Tier IV] exemption his department is authorized to give.

County staff will prepare a new map. It will be the subject of a Feb. 26 public meeting, which Hall is scheduled to attend.

“It’s a huge victory,” Young said. “It gives us some of the flexibility we need in Tier IV.”