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Howard County has a lot of upcoming legislation with hearings scheduled in September. This includes CB38-2019, the Protect This Watershed bill.

Councilwoman Liz Walsh's CB38-2019 is a very big bill that is responding to the problem of waivers in the Patapsco Lower North Branch Watershed. Many laws involving the environment include waivers at the discretion of the overseeing agency, mainly to provide needed flexibility in unforeseen circumstances. When waivers become routine practice, they undermine the effectiveness of that legislation. 

CB38-2019 places limits on what waivers the Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning can issue in the Patapsco Lower North Branch Watershed (this is the watershed that includes Old Ellicott City and Dorsey Search). 

These limits would stop waivers for:

  • Removing large and old trees on sites
  • Forest conservation laws generally
  • Disturbing steep slopes
  • Disturbing streams and other waterways
  • Intruding on green buffers along scenic roads
  • Intruding on wetlands
  • Intruding on floodplains
  • Providing less than that minimum storm water management controls

It does continue to allow waivers of these eight provisions if the waiver improves stormwater management on any existing development or if it is to build a public infrastructure project that is going to have real meaningful impact on the watershed.

The hearing is currently scheduled for Monday, September 16th.

Ask the county council today to protect the Patapsco Lower North Branch Watershed. If you can attend the hearing, please join us! It is going to be a big hearing day, with bills before the council covering Complete Streets and the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO).