Friday, June 3, 2016

Clueless Commissioners

Hugelkultur may not be in the Maryland Stormwater Design Manual, but it doesn't matter for the majority of properties. If a development activity doesn't disturb more than 5,000 square feet of land, the Manual isn't applicable. Most developed properties under private ownership are not going to build more large surfaces or structures, they just get landscaped, so we can do lots of things not discussed in the Manual that will contribute to cleaning up the watershed.

Some locations are still subject to local restrictions; critical areas, for instance. There are many homes in Southern Maryland located in critical areas, i.e. within 1,000 feet of a tidal waterbody. They are critical for the obvious reason that their proximity to the water makes them, by far, the major potential contributors to water pollution. Critical area buffers are therefore, the primary element of watershed protection that should be enforced everywhere.

Violators of critical area rules are sometimes fined when they are reported by neighbors or passersby, but there could be reinforcement of the rules by a more systematic monitoring effort to identify those who bypass the permitting process or don't follow requirements when they develop their waterfront properties. One such effort was proposed by our local Watershed Restoration Specialist that would have entailed making observations of properties via boat and reporting concerns to homeowners and authorities, if necessary. The knee-jerk rejection of said proposal by a St. Mary's County commissioner elicited the rejoinder,"Why Mr. Commissioner? What are you doing illegal on your property?"
Clueless in Tarcoles by Carol Blyberg  (CC BY-NC 2.0)

I hope someone does finger that particular politician and that he ends up paying in full for whatever he is trying to hide. Meanwhile, in Calvert County, Evan Slaughenhoupt, has raised the ire of environmentally conscious citizens by his favoring of Dominion with their white elephant LNG plant construction. He also seems to favor opening the gates wider in the county to land development, with all of the lovely environmental consequences, one of which is the failing D grade given to the Patuxent River on the latest Chesapeake Bay Report Card.

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