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Ordinance updates, replaces stormwater management and sediment control ordinances

August 25, 2010|By HEATHER KEELS

After several public hearings and months of review, Washington County has updated and combined its stormwater management, grading, soil erosion and sediment control requirements into one ordinance.

The changes incorporate new state-mandated regulations that will increase costs for developers and homebuilders, but are designed to improve flood control and improve water quality through downstream erosion control, officials have said.

The Washington County Commissioners approved the revisions by a 3-2 vote Tuesday.

The commissioners were at first split 2-2 on approving the changes, with Commissioners James F. Kercheval and Kristin B. Aleshire in favor, Terry Baker and William J. Wivell opposed, and John F. Barr abstaining.

Barr said he, like Baker, was concerned about a proposed change in the ordinance that would set the maximum graded slope of any private driveway at 15 percent. County staff suggested raising the maximum to 18 percent, but Baker and Barr still were uncomfortable with that limit.

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After Aleshire and Kercheval agreed to remove the driveway slope limit, Barr voted in favor of the changes.

The ordinance revisions were set in motion by Maryland's Stormwater Management Act of 2007, which requires the use of a stormwater management approach known as "environmental site design." This approach emphasizes conserving natural drainage features rather than building new ones, minimizing pavement and other impervious surfaces, and slowing down runoff to allow for more infiltration and evapotranspiration by plants, according to a Maryland Department of the Environment fact sheet.

Local governments have been directed to update their ordinances to require the use of environmental site design "to the maximum extent practicable."

The ordinance approved Tuesday combines and replaces the county's current stormwater management and sediment control ordinances. The sediment control ordinance had not been updated since 1985, county Public Works Director Joseph Kroboth III said.

Drafts of the new ordinance were distributed to area builders, engineers and land surveyers and public hearings on the changes were held May 4 and Aug. 3. Comments received from the development community and from the state resulted in several revisions, Kroboth said.

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