For those who aren’t following this … it’s a huge deal for land and commercial real estate development projects that have either partial or complete site and improvement plan approvals in the state of Maryland.
Back in 2007 the state passed a piece of major legislation — the “Stormwater Act of 2007″ — that is essentially a regulatory overhaul of how stormwater run off is handled. This act establishes (among other things) guidelines for the quality and quantity of stormwater that drains off of any kind of development project … be it commercial, residential, agricultural or industrial.
To quote the Herald Mail newspaper out of Hagerstown: “ This approach emphasizes conserving natural drainage features rather than building new ones, minimizing pavement and other impervious surfaces, and slowing down runoff to allow for more infiltration and evapotranspiration by plants, according to a Maryland Department of the Environment fact sheet.”
Although it passed 3 years ago, the most significant compliance regulations are scheduled to kick in on May 4th(next week). All local jurisdictions were to establish their own guidelines that at least meet the minimum standards set by the Act. Many jurisdictions only made their policies public within the last 6 months.
Earlier this month the state house and senate passed controversial emergency legislation allowing for land development projects with site plan approvals to be considered for a waiver (grandfathering) under a number of conditions. Without the waiver policy, many projects that have invested years of effort and hundreds of thousands of dollars in plans and design could be forced to scrap everything and start over. The cost to a project would not only be in dollars, but the new surface area requirements in some cases will reduce developable density by as much as 25% to 30%.
Whether the legislation is good or bad is for another post, but it does come down to an issue of fairness to the development community, and with the implementation of a waiver/grandfathering provision, this is reasonably addressed.
The linked articles will explain this in more detail, but it looks like both Frederick and Washington Counties will be taking it down to the wire to make revisions to their respective County Codes in order to provide waiver provisions.
The Herald Mail does a nice job to explaining this in today’s paper:
The Frederick News Post article from April 28, 2010: