Most council members back reforestation law

March 05, 1999|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

A majority of Hagerstown City Council members said they support a city version of a state reforestation law that requires landowners to replace wooded areas cleared for development.

The proposed city forest conservation law would mirror the state Forest Conservation Act adopted in 1991.

The state law requires developers who clear more than 40,000 square feet of wooded area to either replant twice as much forest as was cut, or pay into a state fund used to plant trees elsewhere, said Matt Davis, a city planner.

"Developers will see no change other than it'll be handled at the local level instead of at the state level," Davis said.

Without a city law, the state has control over the money and where it is used.

By adopting the law the city would administer the program and control contributions to a city forest conservation fund.

Council members Susan Saum-Wicklein, Alfred W. Boyer and Lewis C. Metzner said they favored a city forest conservation law because it would give the city control over money now going to the state.


Davis said that since 1991, about $200,000 has gone into the state fund as a result of city projects.

If a city law is adopted, Davis said the money placed into a forest conservation fund could be used to plant trees along city streets.

Councilman William M. Breichner opposes a city forest conservation law because he thinks the state law is flawed.

"Why become a party to a bad law?" he asked.

"The city is not a forest and it's ridiculous to have the city have to comply with that law."

Breichner said there isn't enough space in the city to plant new forests.

When told about plans to use money to plant trees along city streets he said, "We'll have to start planting trees in the streets to spend that money."

Councilman J. Wallace McClure said he didn't know enough about the proposed law to comment.

Council members are expected to discuss a forest conservation law during their March 16 work session, and then to introduce the law on March 23.

A final council vote on the law is expected to come during an April 27 voting session.

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