Stream-protection measures tweaked

February 02, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- Proposed regulations to protect streams in Washington Township, Pa., were tweaked Monday to exclude new land subdivision from the rules and only require stream bank restoration if two or more new houses are built on the property.

The so-called riparian buffer ordinance remains in draft form and is months away from being put into effect. However, several property owners have already spoken strongly against the idea.

"Don't force me as a property owner to relinquish my property rights," said Christine McKinney, who has 20 acres of land along a stream.

If enacted, the ordinance would establish 75 feet worth of protected land on either side of a stream if the property is submitted for development. The landowner would still own that parcel, but a conservation easement on deeds would restrict what activities are permitted.


Among proposed permitted activities are biking paths, existing agricultural uses, historic building restoration, nature preserves and reforestation. Prohibited would be clear cutting of vegetation, use of pesticides, vehicle traffic and parking lots.

The township supervisors worked with the Antietam Watershed Association and Washington Township Planning Commission to develop the draft ordinance. Proponents have said their intent is to protect waterways that flow into the Chesapeake Bay.

At their Monday meeting, the supervisors agreed to take out the provisions that called for riparian buffer protection if land is subdivided. Now, in the latest drafts, the provisions would only go into effect if land is submitted for land development construction.

Also, the ordinance would require property owners to restore the buffer if it has less than 66 percent existing vegetation. That would only apply to landowners submitting a property for construction of two or more houses.

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