Frederick County Council Takes Testimony On Two Environmental Bills

A majority who spoke were in favor.

 

Frederick, Md (KM) Two environmental bills received strong support Tuesday night during a hearing by the Frederick County Council.

One piece of legislation is an amendment to the zoning ordinance which would require that criteria for rezoning requests include impacts on environmental and historic resources, population change, planned future transportation systems and planned public facilities.

Ben Alexander with the Maryland League of Conservation Voters called this legislation “essential.” “Not all development sites are created equal,” he said. “And the fact that this will really help look at what are the unique characteristics of each site and be able to make intelligent decisions based on that is very important.”

But Eric Soter with the Land Use Council said this bill would limit the types of building on properties, including affordable housing. “Limiting and suppressing density only has the long term affect of creating exclusionary zoning limiting housing choice, and increasing the consumption of land for all types of uses. This is not just an amendment that affects residential uses,” he said.

Frederick Resident Lemond Robinson¬† expressed his support because it would modify the county’s zoning ordinance. “In doing so, it should result in greater consideration being given to factors such as the adequacy of transportation, protection of environmental resources and the protection of things and places of historic value,” he said.

Another bill would require a one-to-one replacement of forests which are cleared to make way for development. Frederick County had such a law until 2011, when the requirements were eased. During that time, County lost more than 800-acres of forest to development, according to Mike Wilkins, Director of Developmental Review for the Division of Planning and Permitting.

Ellie Cowan with the Smart Growth Alliance testified in favor. “If approved, this no-net forest loss legislation will restore Frederick County’s position as a leader in the state in forest conservation in the face of intense development,” she sdaid.

Also chiming in was Eric Fisher with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. “Forest produces five to ten times less runoff per acre than developed land,”: he said. “Even modern development with stormwater controls cannot match the benefits of forests when it comes to clean runoff.”

A decision by the County Council on both bills is expected at a later date.

 

By Kevin McManus