By Len Lazarick
The Senate passed an O’Malley administration bill to increase control over septic systems for new developments in a 32-14 vote, with all 12 Republicans opposing a bill they called a move to centralized planning.
“This bill clearly is a down-zoning,” said Sen. Barry Glassman, who lives on a farm in Harford County. It will cause farms to lose 30-40% of the value of their land, he said.
“We want to save the land, but we don’t want to save the farmer,” Glassman said.
On Thursday, Sen. Thomas “Mac” Middleton proposed a series of amendments backed by the Maryland Association of Counties, farmers, developers and builders. Those changes were opposed by more liberal members of the Senate who co-sponsored the bill and wanted stronger controls, but the O’Malley administration ultimately backed them in order to gain final votes for the plan.
Senate Minority Leader E.J. Pipkin called the bill part of “the war on rural Maryland,” but Sen. Ron Young, D-Frederick, said, “There’s been a war on cities in this state for years.”
“In almost every way, the state has funded leaving the city,” Young said, by building roads and schools outside the cities. “This isn’t putting the farmers out of business.”
Pipkin insisted, “This bill is about control, not cleaning up the bay.”
Only two Democrats, Sens. James Ed DeGrange, Anne Arundel, and Roy Dyson, St. Mary’s, voted against the bill, which now heads to the House for action.