What drove the WCD?
Our county commissioners are ramming the watershed conservation district zoning amendment through the system that down-zones and limits the percent of impervious sur- face, affecting 9,500 properties on 36,000 acres. Proponents of the WCD cite preservation of the Mattawoman Creek and Chesa- peake Bay as justification but ignore 9,200 acres in Charles and 15,100 acres in Prince George’s County comprising the 60,300 acre creek watershed.
At the Jan. 9 public hear- ing, I said that no federal or state laws required the WCD; no studies were per- formed showing the effect on property owners, environment and economy; and the commissioners’ actions are random and capricious, bordering on malfeasance. Yet, I wasn’t convinced the commissioners rammed the WCD through based solely on the opinions of a few environmental zealots extolling zero growth.
We have no say in P.G. County, but why exclude St. Charles and property abut- ting and west of U.S. 301, almost to the P.G. County line, within the creek’s wa- tershed? This high density development area must dump large amounts of pollutants into the the creek.
In 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set 2017 interim and 2015 final pollutant targets for the bay states and Washington, D.C., to improve the bay’s water. The Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) set county specific targets to meet EPA targets. In 2013, the commissioners sent a Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) strat- egy to the MDE. The WIP is based on scientific studies directed towards meeting federal and state laws, is countywide, lists strategies and costs to meet the MDE targets, focuses on storm- water impervious surface projects, county wastewater treatment and septic systems.
WIP projects cost $200,000 to billions of dollars and will likely cause taxes to go up. However, the WIP is based on all state and county pollutants discharged to the bay and a fair way to spread costs of meeting targets across all Maryland counties, the bay states and D.C., not only the 9,500 county property owners in the WCD.
Conclusion: the commissioners supported the WCD as a cheap and likely illegal land grab devaluing property values to meet the MDE county targets for 2017. How expensive is a zoning amendment squarely aimed at a small select group of property owners with limited ability to challenge the new law?
Commissioners, do your job transparently, drop the WCD and follow the WIP recommendations you requested.
Thank you for your consideration. Tony Dunay, White Plains