What drove the WCD?

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

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

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