(left to right) Pam Abramson and Amy Reyes of RALE (Residents Against Landsdale Expansion) at the future site of an 1,100 new home subdivision in Frederick County. Photo by Tom Pelton/CBF Staff(left to right) Pam Abramson and Amy Reyes of RALE (Residents Against Landsdale Expansion) at the future site of an 1,100 new home subdivision in Frederick County. Photo by Tom Pelton/CBF Staff

Some Counties Are Working Hard to Implement Maryland's New Anti-Sprawl Law; Others are Not

By enacting the Sustainable Growth & Agricultural Preservation Act of 2012, the state Administration and Maryland General Assembly took a critical step forward in protecting our waters, open spaces, and rural agricultural economy from the impacts of harmful sprawl. This new law, which took effect on July 1, 2012, seeks greater accountability and predictability by encouraging counties to map future growth into categorical "tiers." Counties were to adopt "tier maps” for future growth by December 31, 2012 or face limits on new growth outside areas with existing sewers.

Many localities are working hard to implement the law. Unfortunately, a few counties appear to be falling short of the law and are putting our waterways and rural lands at risk. Some counties, such as Frederick and Cecil, have adopted maps that do not measure up to the standards in the law, according to the Maryland Department of Planning (MDP). As a result, these maps do not adequately protect our waters and rural lands from overdevelopment.

Below you will find a map of the "Septics Law" adoption status by county.

Map: Maryland septic law adoption by county. Source: Maryland Department of Planning

Click to view larger

It isn't fair to saddle existing residents and businesses with the substantial costs of cleaning up new pollution from harmful sprawl. We are making progress in reducing pollution to the Bay. Development is the only major pollution source on the increase. It is only fair—and sensible—to target new growth where it will pollute less.

Maryland's General Assembly is in session now. The state legislature must stand firm and reject attempts to scuttle or weaken the law, which is critical to the success of the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint.

For more information visit the Maryland Department of Planning website.

 

Why is Maryland's Anti-Sprawl Act So Important?

Under the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, Maryland is required to reduce septic and stormwater nitrogen pollution by about 3 million pounds (about 25% of the total reduction required from all sectors) over the next 12 years. The Sustainable Growth & Agricultural Preservation Act of 2012 is projected to prevent approximately 1.1 million pounds of new nitrogen from polluting our local waters and the Chesapeake Bay by 2035, according to the Maryland Department of Planning.

If historical development patterns were to continue without actions like the anti-sprawl law, growth would be projected to add 120,000 more septic systems and another 2 million pounds of nitrogen over the next 25 years, according to state estimates.

The law is projected to save at least 100,000 acres (more than 150 square miles) of farm and forest land across the state over the next 25 years, according to MDP.

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