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January 23, 2013

Garrett commissioners adopt watershed ordinance

OAKLAND —  Garrett County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a  Department of Planning and Land Development recommendation to rectify a conflict in the Deep Creek Watershed Zoning ordinance.

“Apparently, there have been over the years a course of hundreds of text amendments that have been made to the Deep Creek zoning ordinance,” said Commissioner Jim Raley during a public meeting held Tuesday. “I don’t want to see us be inconsistent with state law. I don’t want to see us doing things that are procedurally incorrect.”

The purpose of the amendments is to change two sections to make the ordinance consistent with Land Use Article 66B.

“I also want to make it perfectly clear that I want a full review, to the extent possible, of any text amendment that comes before us,” said Raley. “Obviously, I know there still has to be a public hearing.”

Raley asked the planning commission to review his comments and see if procedurally something could be put into place place to add a small hurdle to a text amendment.

“I don’t want to see the text amendment becoming a substitute for something more comprehensive,” said Raley. “... it can be easier to go with a text amendment change than it would be with a full zoning amendment. I do see some future text amendments on the horizon that I think can be very substantive.”   

Both Chairman Robert Gatto and Commissioner Gregan Crawford echoed Raley’s sentiments.

“This doesn’t mean we are going to rubber-stamp every text change that comes through,” said Crawford.

The commission also voted, with Crawford abstaining, to adopt the Deep Creek Lake Shoreline Stabilization Projects Incentive Program. Crawford said the decision should have been tabled until the results of Phase II of the Deep Creek Lake sediment study are known.

“Without knowing the results ... we’re looking at what we could do up front,” said Raley.

The program is similar to the sprinkler incentive that was adopted by the commission several months ago. The program will provide a $1,600 incentive payment for construction of a structure for shoreline stabilization, according to John Nelson, director of Planning and Land Development. The incentive will be paid with carryover funds from last year.

“I think the intent of the Board of Commissioners wasn’t necessarily to try to come up with incentive to cover the cost of the permit fee but actually the cost of that construction,” said Nelson.  

“The incentive requires full construction and requires that the structure pass inspections by the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources,” said Raley.

The program is for the current fiscal year and, thus far, eight to 10 applications have been made for shoreline stabilization projects, according to Nelson. The program will encourage people to stabilize the shoreline to protect it from further erosion and sedimentation that is caused by the surface of the lake, said Nelson.

The commission also voted to give $500 to the Northern High School agriculture department to grow grass for the shoreline project and to allow Southern High School to be included, if interested.

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