June 10 Public Forum to Discuss New State Critical Area Law - Southern Maryland Headline News

June 10 Public Forum to Discuss New State Critical Area Law


LEONARDTOWN, Md. (May 21, 2008)—Effective July 1, 2008, the State’s Critical Area Law will add several new regulations. The St. Mary’s County Government’s Department of Land Use and Growth Management Department is hosting a public forum on Tuesday, June 10 to explain the new regulations.

The forum will be at the College of Southern Maryland Leonardtown Campus beginning at 7 p.m.

The new Law, HB 1253, was passed during the 2008 legislative session, and is effective July 1, 2008. The new regulations affect properties on the waterfront. With St. Mary’s County’s 403 miles of shoreline, these new laws will have a significant impact in the county.

The new law is designed to help restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay by strengthening the critical area law. The new regulations were approved to ensure more adequate protection of the most environmentally sensitive and significant lands within Maryland’s Chesapeake and Coastal Bays watershed.

The 1984 critical areas law designated all land within 1,000 feet of the edge of tidal waters and wetlands as “critical area.” The current 1,000-foot area was identified using 1972 state wetland maps, that are still used today for enforcement and variance allowances by local governments. Sixty-four local jurisdictions including 16 counties and 48 municipalities comprise land within the critical area.

To prevent houses from being built near the water, the newly updated law will require a 200 foot setback for all new subdivisions in the RCA (Resource Conservation Area). The legislation requires builders and home improvement contractors to comply with the Critical Area law, and imposes stiff penalties for violations of the law, and requires anyone who builds an illegal structure or clears illegally in the Critical Area to completely restore the site, pay fines, and mitigate for the violation prior to seeking any approvals for illegal work performed in the Critical Area.

The forum will be videotaped and broadcast on County Government Channel 95.

To view the state law, visit http://mlis.state.md.us/2008rs/billfile/hb1253.htm and click on Chapter 119.

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