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Washington Township studying how water regs will affect property owners

July 12, 2007|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Using existing housing developments and waterways, officials from Washington Township, Pa., will soon be examining how proposed riparian buffer regulations will affect property owners.

Township supervisors Christopher Firme and John Gorman have whittled a 20-page model ordinance down to 10 pages dictating how future subdivisions will protect streams, creeks and wetlands.

Their draft is before township staff and the board of supervisors as a whole for consideration and revisions.

"There's a certain type of vegetation and canopy cover that's required for water quality," Gorman said at a workshop meeting Wednesday.

Depending on property and scope of development, certain developers might have to not only preserve the existing stream buffers, but enhance them under the ordinance.

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The draft calls for 75 feet of forested riparian buffers from the top of each stream bank, with modifications made depending on slope.

Township Manager Mike Christopher said 75 feet might be too much to ask, and perhaps 50 feet would be acceptable when connected to the east and west branches of the Antietam Creek.

He suggested mapping and physically examining how the ordinance would affect different parts of the township.

The supervisors and staff can take tape measures to various sites, Gorman agreed.

Supervisor Carroll Sturm said the ordinance needs to be simplified or else the township might have to budget more for staff, allowing them to enforce and guide the process with developers.

The supervisors might have to "step up to the plate and add in some manpower because it's going to take work," Sturm said.

"It's work that has to be done," Gorman said.

The ordinance defines a buffer as a natural or enhanced vegetated area adjacent to a stream or wetland.

Gorman said that, while it may be counter-intuitive, it's important to protect the smaller streams and improve their quality because they feed into larger bodies of water.

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