Stream protection rules debated

February 09, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- Debate continued Monday regarding proposed riparian buffer regulations that were designed to protect streams but some property owners feel are too restrictive of their rights.

Two farmers told the Washington Township Planning Commission that the proposed ordinance could affect their plans to pass property onto their children.

"Don't make, in the township, all the ordinances stifling for generations to come," said Jack Martin of Polktown Road.

Details of the riparian buffer ordinance are being hammered out by the planning commission, township supervisors and the Antietam Watershed Association. If passed, it would establish 75 feet of protected land on either side of a stream if that property is submitted for the development of new houses.

If two or more houses are planned where the buffer is less than 66 percent vegetation, the property owner would be required to submit a proposal to boost the vegetation level.


Alan Frantz, who farms along Pa. 16, questioned whether the prohibited "housing of livestock" on the protected stream bank referred to barns or grazing areas. The planners agreed that section needs to be clarified.

Frantz provided copies of state law that says no agency can require someone to erect a fence along a stream in a pasture. And, he said, cows would actually prefer the newly created high vegetation areas, where they would sleep, defecate and tromp down the stream bank -- the opposite intent of the ordinance.

The ordinance has been designed to cut down on pollutants that ultimately flow into the Chesapeake Bay, harming fish and crustacean populations.

Planning commission member Randy Kuhn asked how the ordinance would be enforced. Township Manager Mike Christopher said stream protection would become a required part of land development plans, but Kuhn said that does nothing when someone starts harming the stream on hidden parts of private property later.

The supervisors will host further discussion about the proposed regulations at their Feb. 18 meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. in the offices on South Welty Road.

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