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County postponed stormwater ordinance vote

May 04, 2010|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Washington County's proposed stormwater management ordinance got mixed reviews Tuesday.

An engineer suggested it was too burdensome.

A home builders representative said it was unfair to single-family homes.

On the other side, a soil conservation official called for the county to pass the ordinance as it is.

An environmentalist urged county officials to think about the public and not cater to developers.

After Tuesday's public hearing, the Washington County Commissioners decided to allow at least a few more weeks for revisions before trying to pass the ordinance, which addresses stormwater management, grading, and soil erosion and sediment control.

Local governments are required under a 2007 Maryland law to set stormwater management controls.

Joseph Kroboth III, the county's public works director, said the state law, which focuses on environmental site design, represents a change in philosophy.

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He said the county has been working on its ordinance for about 18 months. It released the first draft in November 2009.

During the public hearing, Fred Frederick of Frederick, Seibert & Associates, a Hagerstown engineering firm, listed his concerns about how the ordinance refers to erodible soils, sensitive areas and setbacks.

Debi Harrington, executive director of the Home Builders Association of Washington County, said the new ordinance could add delays and extra costs when single-family homes are built.

Elmer D. Weibley of the Washington County Conservation District said stormwater management works when done properly. Urging the commissioners to pass the ordinance, he said the short-term costs are much lower than the long-term costs of cleaning up the damage from pollutants.

Sally Hatch of the Antietam Creek Watershed Alliance said the county should be a partner with environmentalists. Passing the ordinance would show that the county commissioners are good stewards, she said.

Others who spoke agreed with Frederick and Harrington that the commissioners should improve the draft ordinance before voting on it.

Land-use attorney Jason Divelbiss said it's not even clear what the latest version is.

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