March 27, 2010

Waivers for stormwater regs pass House

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By Nick DiMarco
Nick@MarylandReporter.com

Developers would be able to get waivers from controversial new restrictions on stormwater runoff that counties have to put in place by May, under a bill approved by the House.

By a 127 to 13 vote, delegates passed an attempt at compromise between environmental and business groups Friday, which clarifies how counties should implement new regulations for stormwater management.

Under the bill, redevelopment projects would have to reduce impervious surface areas by between 20 and 50 percent. The amendments gave ground rules to developers regarding the granting of waivers and on grandfathering projects in by the May 4 deadline.

“You can find common ground, and you can keep moving towards better water quality, better environment and still have good development,” said Del. Maggie McIntosh, D-Baltimore City.

McIntosh, who chairs the House Environmental Matters Committee, has said repeatedly that since Maryland has “believe it or not” more coastline than California, defining regulations for runoff is important for protecting the Chesapeake Bay.

During Friday’s evening session, bill sponsor Del. Anthony O’Donnell, the House Republican leader who serves on the committee, reluctantly said he would vote for the bill, but he wanted to make the clear the fiscal impact that his colleagues were voting for.

“We continue to see an administration that says jobs, jobs, jobs, and yet their agencies in the executive branch continue to squeeze the life out of job creating industries,” he said.