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“Nationals October 2019

Anne Arundel County Council passed forest conservation bill unanimously

| November 18, 2019, 09:12 PM

After holding three public hearings, debating more than 40 proposed amendments, and hearing approximately ten hours of total public testimony and deliberation, the Anne Arundel County Council voted unanimously to pass County Executive Steuart Pittman’s forest conservation bill, #68-19.

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“For decades, it’s been too easy to cut down forests in Anne Arundel County, but that changed tonight,” said County Executive Pittman. “This bill moves Anne Arundel County from the state leader in forest loss to the state leader in forest protection. I’m pleased the Council agreed and passed it unanimously. That’s good news for our waterways, our wildlife, and our future generations.”

The legislation consists of several key provisions that enhance the county’s existing protections for forests:

  • increases the “conservation thresholds” that determine how much forest must be preserved on a construction site;

  • adds protections for contiguous forests of 75 acres or more;

  • doubles tree replanting requirements; 

  • triples the base fee-in-lieu of replanting from $0.40 to $1.25 per square foot within growth areas, and from $0.50 to $1.50 per square foot outside of growth areas; and

  • brings county code into compliance with the most recent state forest conservation code.

The legislation enjoys broad, bipartisan support among Anne Arundel County residents, according to a recent public opinion poll. In October, an Opinionworks poll found that 81 percent of respondents supported a stronger forest conservation law, in a survey of 539 registered voters by Arundel Rivers Federation. 

“This was a popular bill, but it was not a simple bill,” said Mr. Pittman. “At the end of the day, all voices were heard and the process worked as it should. I am thankful to all seven council members and also to our outstanding county staff. I suspect that other central Maryland counties will follow our lead and strengthen their forest protections in the near future.”

“The Council put a lot of hard work into this legislation,” said Council Chairman Andrew Pruski (District 4). “And it was worth it, because the result will protect our environment, encourage redevelopment, and limit sprawl.”

The legislation will go into effect 45 days after the County Executive signs the bill, which is required within 10 business days. Mr. Pittman is planning a signing ceremony and will announce details shortly.  

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