The following is from the March edition of a monthly column written by Anne Arundel County Councilman Dick Ladd (R-5th District), a resident of the Broadneck peninsula.
The Council has acted on a number of substantive items in the last several weeks. Most important has been the selection and appointment of Laura Neuman as the new County Executive.
I am delighted that Ms. Neuman was selected by the Council. I personally wish her the very best, and I am positive her remarkable record of successes will soon include that of County Executive. She is now in the process of forming her executive team and preparing the County’s FY2014 budget.
There were 16 residents who came forward and offered their services. It is indeed a high compliment to the community that it is replete with so many well-qualified and civic-minded residents. I note that during the selection process, the concerns expressed most often were for restoring the integrity of the County -- not about policy, taxes or budget.
Legislatively, the Council passed the Critical Area Bill (98-12) which codifies practices and policies to comply with State Critical Area regulations and requirements. While the bill only applies to the so-called “critical areas” (or all property within 1000 feet of a body of water or bog), much of Severna Park and the Broadneck Peninsula are in the critical area. No new or more restrictive requirements were established. Fines for violations were increased consistent with State requirements.
Nothing in code requires a homeowner to give up anything currently in existence today. The “however” is that if one wants to increase or intensify property use requiring a variance from today‘s lot coverage limits, some changes to the status quo will be needed. This reality has been with us for a long time. The Planning and Zoning Office (PZO) has considerable latitude and flexibility within the current code to avoid the variance process. During the first, or concept phase of planning, the PZO suggests, seeks and welcomes consultation with property owners about steps which can avoid the need for a variance.
I must note that Ron Bowen, the Department of Public Works Director, was recently recognized by the Chesapeake Bay Trust for his efforts on restoring and cleaning up the Bay and the County’s rivers and waterways by reducing storm water pollution. The enormity of the job and the disciplined engineering approach he and those under his leadership employ is certainly deserving of this recognition. His leadership will serve and help preserve the water oriented lifestyle in Severna Park and on the Broadneck Peninsula.
An example of Ron’s efforts is the Storm Water Management – Watershed Protection and Restoration Program and Special Revenue Fund Bill (2-13) now before the Council – the second of three components of the County “Watershed Implementation Plan” (WIP). This $1.2B multi-year program will, among others things, restore the County’s storm water runoff system. The Council will carefully consider the concerns brought to the Council’s public hearing on church and smaller R-1 residential properties. I welcome your thoughts on this bill.
The third and final component of the County WIP will deal with the County’s 40,684 septic systems which are slated to yield about a third of the required pollutant reductions. About half of these systems are planned connections to extensions of the sewer system or to a neighborhood cluster system. More than 50 percent of the septic-to-sewer connections are located in Severna Park and elsewhere on the Broadneck Peninsula. The remaining septic systems will be required to have an enhanced nitrogen removal capability.
The engineering plans are well underway for our area and can be reviewed through our office. The total cost is currently estimated at $1.3B and is unlikely to start before FY2016. Funding this enormous effort may be the most challenging of the entire WIP planning process. A committee, which I hope to Chair, will start later this spring to consider our funding options, central to which will be the participation and collaboration with the affected communities and their homeowner associations.
With regard to the changes to the County retirement and health care benefits mentioned in last month’s column, it is taking a little longer than I had expected. While all parties continue to work through some sticking points and the concerns of many, we are still several weeks away from having a finished product to send to the County Executive.
If you have any questions, concerns, or comments, please give me a call at 410-222-1401.
Read previous columns by Ladd:
- Ladd: 'Swirl of Events' Facing County Government
- Ladd Addresses Critical Area Bill in Latest Column (January)
- Ladd Offers Information About Critical Area Law (December)
- Councilman Ladd Highlights October's Council Progress (November)
- Ladd Against Limiting County Executive's Veto Power (October)
- Ladd Reviews Charter Amendments on Nov. Ballot (September)
- Councilman Ladd: Schools Benefiting from Budget Actions (August)
- Councilman Ladd Outlines Local Budget Impacts (July)
- Ladd: Council Will Address Bylaws This Month (June)