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Commissioners Regard Septic Bill as Punishment
Prince Frederick, MD - 8/1/2012
By Marty Madden
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“Wouldn’t you like to be governor for a day so you could fire Rich Hall?”
Commissioner Evan Slaughenhoupt expresses frustration over Maryland’s recently approved Septic Bill. Hall is the secretary of the Maryland Department of Planning.
Calvert County Department of Community Planning and Building Director Charles Johnston updated the county commissioners on a recent meeting he (Johnston) and members of his staff had with Maryland Department of Planning officials. Johnston’s summary, presented during the staff session prior to the commissioners’ Tuesday, July 31 meeting was not well received.
Johnston and department staff met with state officials about the possible impacts of the Sustainable Growth and Agricultural Preservation Act of 2012, which is better known as The Septic Bill. He indicated the possibility is strong that minor town centers such as St. Leonard, Dunkirk and Huntingtown, which are not served by public sewer, could have their priority funding area status compromised should the county fail to comply with The Septic Bill. Building a major subdivision or expanding a smaller residential development would appear to violate the statewide measure.
“We’re essentially being punished for all the good deeds we’ve done in the past,” said Johnston, alluding to Calvert County’s vaunted record for managing residential growth.
“Wouldn’t you like to be governor for a day so you could fire Rich Hall,” said Commissioner Evan K. Slaughenhoupt Jr. [R], referring to the secretary of the Maryland Department of Planning.
“At some point we are going to have to go toe-to-toe with them [state government],” said Commissioner Susan Shaw [R].
One opportunity for such a confrontation is tentatively set for next Tuesday, Aug. 7 when Hall and other department officials are scheduled to meet with the county commissioners.
Proponents of The Septic Bill contend its aim is to limit the creation of new residential building lots to be served by on-site septic systems, with the goal being to clean up the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. State officials have stated the measure is voluntary.
Opponents view The Septic Bill as a denigration of property values, since land where fewer houses may be built will become less lucrative.
County governments planning to comply with the legislation have been directed to establish a four-tier system, ranging from areas served by public sewer (tier one) to land preservation areas where no subdivisions are allowed (tier four).
“I think we’d be better off if we take five or six months to work through this,” said Commissioners’ President Gerald W. “Jerry” Clark [R]. Noting that there are no new major subdivision applications awaiting the start of the approval process, Clark added, “there are really no consequences if we don’t meet the deadline.”
You’ve Lost that Electric Feeling
The commissioners were prepared for a presentation on revisions to the St. Leonard Town Center Master Plan July 31 when a brief power outage brought the session to an abrupt halt. The momentary glitch impacted the equipment being used to videotape the meeting for broadcast later, on the government cable channel. The commissioners waited while the situation was corrected. To fill the lull, Commissioner Steven R. Weems [R] performed his version of the old Righteous Brothers hit “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling.” Weems received applause and soon the important but arguably less entertaining town center master plan presentation resumed without any further delays.
Contact Marty Madden at firstname.lastname@example.org
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