Stormwater audit exposes the importance of inspectors and clean water enforcement!

 A June 7, 2013 email note from Richard Klein, Community and Environmental Defense Services

An October, 2011 Audit of the Severn River watershed revealed that hundreds of stormwater ponds and other practices had failed due to a lack of maintenance.  The Audit then uncovered the cause – a 2001 decision by Anne Arundel County to severely cut-back stormwater staff from seven inspectors to one! 

As a result of diminished inspections little maintenance has been performed and stormwater benefits steadily declined.  In the Severn River watershed alone the stormwater failures have allowed 25,000 pounds of nutrients to needlessly enter the waterway each year.  In fact, funding stormwater inspection programs is THE most cost-effective use of public dollars to minimize stormwater pollution releases into our waterways.

Since the 2011 Audit was released it has served to greatly expand public awareness of the importance of clean water law enforcement.  Nothing illustrates this better than the recent announcement that the County will quadruple their stormwater inspection staff.

 

Watershed Audit Quickest, Cheapest Way To Improve Water Quality

Through the CEDS Watershed Audit all existing activities are evaluated for compliance with Clean Water laws.  Due to many years of underfunded enforcement budgets, large volumes of pollution are entering our waterways from sources no longer in compliance with these laws.  A typical watershed is about 70 square miles in size and can be audited by a few volunteers or staff in no more than a week.  The Audit procedures are easy to learn and cost very little.  For further detail on Watershed Audits visitceds.org/audit.  To see if a compliance problem exists in your watershed call 1-800-773-4571 or simply reply to this message to schedule a no-cost initial Audit

 

—————–

 

Richard Klein

Community & Environmental Defense Services

811 Crystal Palace Court

Owings Mills, MD  21117

443-421-5964

 

Watch the youtube: Plan for the Valleys, Baltimore County, receives national planning award

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7fKz6bsOjU

Green Economic Development saves money and makes for better living: 2 reports of interest

Across the country, communities are struggling with how to fix and replace failing and outdated infrastructure and meet new demand to manage stormwater and protect clean water. American Rivers worked with the American Society of Landscape Architects, ECONorthwest, and the Water Environment Federation to release the Banking-on-Green report to build on the current understanding of the cost-effectiveness of green infrastructure and examine how these practices can increase energy efficiency and reduce energy costs, reduce localized flooding, and protect public health.

Green infrastructure, which utilizes natural processes to treat stormwater, potentially offers a number of benefits over the equivalent gray infrastructure. In a report titled Economic Benefits of Green Infrastructure in the Chesapeake Bay , the authors investigate the types of benefits, and where possible, quantify and value the benefits green infrastructure provides for three case studies in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. They describe green infrastructure projects and their benefits in Montgomery County, MD, Washington DC, and Prince George’s County, MD.

Rally to oppose the Young Board’s budget, Wedn May 2nd at 5pm

STAND IN SOLIDARITY FOR YOUR COMMUNITY: May 2nd 5-6pm at TJ High School

RALLY for a budget that supports our schools, non profits and community services !!

On May 2nd the BoCC will be holding a hearing on the Operating Budget for our schools and a number of programs and services to our Frederick community. Now is not the time for neutrality. Now is not the time to be divided in our advocacy for ALL of these essential services to our community!

Stand Up Frederick and Friends of Frederick County invite our community to stand together for our teachers and staff, firefighters, county employees, and those who work in so many of our services to make Frederick a strong community with a high quality of life! The rally will start at 5pm prior to the hearing at 6pm.

We have also learned that more than 30 faith communities are united in their opposition to the Board of County Commissioners in Frederick County due to the reduction of funding to nonprofit agencies. There will be a prayer vigil simultaneous to the rally, we can stand united as a greater voice!

“We are concerned about the most vulnerable among us, because our faith gives us responsibility for them. At the peak of county support the total contributed toward the work of these organizations was barely one-tenth of one cent of each tax dollar. The services they provide touch nearly every family in the county” said Reverend Mark Wakefield, Senior Pastor of the Christ Reformed United Church of Christ in Middletown.

Please note: On Sunday, April 29 at noon: there will be an interfaith prayer rally at Winchester Hall Speakers from several congregations and non-profits will speak on the long term importance of supporting organizations that provide essential services. People are asked to bring a non-perishable food item to leave on the steps.

 

What’s up with the Young BOCC budget

Here’s the truth on the county budget

Budget baloney

Originally published April 18, 2012

It is time for the truth about the county budget.Since Blaine Young has been in office, the county budget has grown. Contrary to the rhetoric, the budget has grown, spending has increased, and so has the size of government! 

The first operating budget adopted by the Young board was $449.1 million, up 2.47 percent from the prior year budget of $438.3 million. The second operating budget, as proposed by the Young board will be $479.6 million, up 6.7 percent from the current year. If this budget is adopted as proposed, Young will be adopting the largest operating budget in the history of Frederick County!

While we hear a lot of rhetoric about cuts, we hear very little about the spending. Why were Head Start and human service nonprofits cut? Young and company wanted to cut programs that serve the needy. These cuts were not necessary to balance a growing budget.

In the upcoming budget, spending in the sheriff’s office is proposed to increase by 3 percent; finance department by 5.9 percent; IIT (technology) by 14 percent, the county attorney’s office by 22.5 percent — and the list goes on.

Where has this money come from? Not from cuts made by this board but primarily from increases in income tax revenue. The current year budget includes an increase in income taxes of $16 million or a 12 percent increase. The upcoming proposed budget reflects an increase in income tax revenue of $13 million or a 7.9 percent increase. Most of the rest of the increase comes from the audited fund balance from the last fiscal year of the Gardner board!

Citizens and the media need to review, understand and report the facts about the county budget. This information is readily available on the county website. The public deserves the truth.

 

JOHN GARDNER

Frederick

 

2-21-12 Public Hearing: Will the BOCC give developers, lobbyists/lawyers the power to negotiate the adequacy of our schools and roads?

Public Hearing tonight: 2/21 @ 7PM

The Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) is in the process of rezoning up to 15,000 acres of farmland and open space in Frederick County for development.

In the past when projects enter the development process Frederick County has relied on a local ordinance to help protect all citizens from overcrowded schools, roads and overburdened emergency services; it is called the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO), and it has been significantly weakened by this BOCC.

But, apparently even the current APFO is a thorn in the side of developers and their lawyers/lobbyists. So on Tuesday the BOCC will hear a proposal to roll it into a Developer’s Rights and Responsibilities Agreement (DRRA). The DRRA is an agreement put together by developers, their lawyers/lobbyists and the county that spells out in detail the concessions the developer is granting. With a DRRA we, the taxpayers, will have to trust that the developer and BOCC are looking out for our best interest. If that doesn’t send up red flags, it should!

So, once the BOCC has rezoned thousands and thousands of acres of Frederick County’s farmland for houses and strip malls, what will ensure that there are schools, roads and emergency services for this development? An agreement put together by this BOCC and the developer? Oh my. Keep your eyes open very soon for the most active lobbyists in Frederick County (Weinberg & Miller, Linowes & Blocher, Severn, O’Connor & Kresslein), representing the largest rezoned parcels, as they present DRRAs to the BOCC to develop their properties.

How many windfalls and benefits will this BOCC give to the already wealthy development community on the backs of taxpayers – while they are covering our farms with housing sprawl and asphalt? It seems endless.

A DRRA is a binding agreement that, once signed, can only change if BOTH parties (the county and the developer) agree to do so.

The public hearing on amending the county code to roll the APFO into the DRRA is tonight, Tuesday, 2/21 at 7pm Winchester Hall.

 

Sustainable growth policies for rural areas: making communities attractive for investment

Maryland Department of Planning’s Sustainable Growth Commission

is studying ways to make smart growth development more economically attractive to the developers.

Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission: how can we encourage infill?

How do we persuade more people and businesses to choose existing communities when they choose where they will live, work and invest?

Can we encourage development in places that are targeted for growth and revitalization by streamlining the development approval process in those locations?

What is the best way to implement sustainable growth policies in rural areas of the State?

Read minutes from the last meeting here.

12-14-11 Citizen opinion “PlanMaryland promotes public good”

PlanMaryland promotes public good

Originally published December 14, 2011  FNP

Don Kornreich writes in his Sunday, Dec. 11 column, “PlanMaryland and private property rights,” that the proposed PlanMaryland evokes eminent domain and the taking of private property. This is a serious stretch of the imagination!Kornreich himself reports that PlanMaryland is “intended to provide a framework, process and actions for furthering ‘Smart Growth’ and for implementing various ‘planning visions.’”

And as reported by the Castle Coalition, whom he refers to: “In … Maryland, the eminent domain (must) … meet the requirements for public purpose or public necessity.”

Well, those are two comprehensive limiting factors. The typical use of eminent domain is obtaining right of way for highways, but only after a purchase process.

PlanMaryland has no draconian overstepping upon jurisdictional or private property rights. Repeat three times to wash away all the flak you’ve been hearing.

Local officials will still make land-use decisions. Private property will still be protected.

PlanMaryland outlines growth areas in order to wisely and efficiently mitigate costs of infrastructure and direct land use toward choices that protect resources.

To say otherwise is pure politics and unjust public ranting against the public good. A better use of our officials’ time would be building a regional planning group that helps address common issues and costly planning impacts.

 

JACK LYNCH

Frederick

 

PlanMaryland makes good economic sense

Frederick County might lobby against its own economic best interest?

It’s our money BoCC is spending

Originally published November 09, 2011

 

The Board of County Commissioners might join with other counties to hire a lobbyist who will “follow” PlanMaryland. Following is one thing, but spending our tax dollars lobbying to sabotage it is another.PlanMaryland promotes growth policies that will reduce the miles you travel and reduce community road cost by 71 percent. The policies will lower construction cost by 10 percent and lower nitrogen loading from new development (a major cost and impact on our waterways) by 72.9 percent. (Data source: PlanMaryland, Table 2-2.)

Let’s keep our eyes open; it is our money, after all.

 

JANICE WILES, Friends of Frederick County

 

Maryland passes smart growth policies that support kids walking to school

Why can’t Johnny walk to school? (Soon, he might)

October 28, 2011

David T. Whitaker, AICP Land UseSmart GrowthPlanning ,, 1 Comment

State Treasurer Nancy Kopp, Governor Marting O’Malley and Comptroller Peter Franchot.

In late October 2011, Maryland’s Board of Public Works – comprised of Governor Martin O’Malley, Comptroller Peter Franchot and Treasurer Nancy Kopp – approved a little-noticed package of regulatory changes for new and replacement public school construction that could help enhance smart growth in the state.

In 2002, the National Trust for Historic Preservation informed us, “Why Johnny Can’t Walk to School.”  This groundbreaking report highlighted how shortsighted school construction policies and short term cost considerations across the country undermine existing neighborhood schools and result in the construction of new schools located outside of communities. The reasons were many – overly large acreage standards oriented to suburban design standards; escalating land costs in existing or planned communities; lack of effective communication between local planning departments and school facility planners; and numerous state policies across the nation favoring new school construction in farm fields over sites in existing or planned communities.

In 2007, the Maryland Department of Planning (MDP) decided to examine school construction and planning practices as they relate to Maryland. This culminated in it’s the 2008 Models & Guidelines publication “Smart Growth, Community Planning and Public School Construction,”. The publication drew national attention and many questions. Ultimately, it started a process of scrutinizing Maryland’s school construction practices with a focus on school siting procedures, capital funding processes and compact/vertical design options for new schools. A broad-based workgroup studied these issues and reported on each one. Three reports which were submitted to the Task Force on the Future for Growth and Development in the summer of 2009. The key recommendation of the workgroup was for “school construction funding decisions to be subject to Priority Funding Area (PFA) Review in a similar manner to state funding decisions on water & sewer and transportation infrastructure.”

On Wednesday, October 19, 2011, the Maryland Board of Public Works approved a set of regulatory changes governing the Maryland Public School Construction Program.  These changes promote location decisions and school construction funding for sustainable community-based new public school construction throughout Maryland. These changes to Section 23.03.02 of COMAR, Administration of the Public School Construction Program, are focused in two areas:  The Capital Improvement Program and Site Selection for New Schools.

How does this change affect the process? Well, when a school system – more formally known as a Local Education Agency or LEA – proposes to build a new school or to increase the state rated capacity (student seat capacity) of a replacement school outside of a PFA, the LEA must request a waiver for approval of planning of the school facility and also funding for construction.

Additionally, unless a waiver is granted, a proposed site for a new school or a replacement school that adds capacity must be located within a PFA.

By requiring PFA review of school construction projects and site approval, Maryland has created a powerful incentive for communities to build new schools in existing neighborhoods, which are far more likely to be pedestrian-friendly or capable of being retrofitted than locations in outlying areas.

This significant step by the Board of Public Works marks a new era toward better decision-making by local and state governments about where new and replacement schools are built.  Schools within PFA’s – whether new or replacement – support the design of pedestrian-friendly communities in which homes, stores and offices as well as libraries, parks, recreation centers and other public facilities are well connected and possibly accessible by foot or bicycle. This as compared to sites isolated from one another and accessible only by motor vehicle travel. Schools located within communities in this manner reduce long term transportation costs and can improve the public health of the students they serve.

With improved community design guidelines that emphasize connectivity of streets and improved walking and bicycle access, schools can once again be anchors that promote the use of active transportation in Maryland communities.

From the public health perspective, experts emphasize the importance of walking or bicycling to school and other routine physical activity as vital to reversing the childhood obesity epidemic. In 2007, 29 percent of Maryland children ages 10 to 17 – nearly one in three – were obese or overweight , putting them at increased risk for serious health problems.[i] The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warns that if current trends continue, one-third of all American adults will have diabetes in 2050.[ii] In addition, vehicle emissions, including particulates from diesel vehicles and the emissions of cars idling around schools as parents wait to pick up their children after school, are shown to contribute to the rise in childhood asthma rates.

A recent report for the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) points to mounting evidence that moderately intense physical activity like walking and bicycling can help prevent disease and disability and improve overall health. Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) and Maryland’s regional and local transportation agencies are now considering human health in their planning on the assumption that increasing the share of “non-motorized” trips (walking and bicycling) can yield improved public health outcomes.

From the fiscal perspective, the cost of transporting students from home to school can be reduced by locating schools in communities. School bus costs have surged in recent years – Maryland spent $225.1 million on student transportation in the 2009-2010 school year. This is a 28 percent jump from the $175.5 million Maryland spent during the 2005-2006 school year. These higher costs are not due to school enrollment growth – transportation costs per pupil rose 26 percent, from $751 to $949, during the same period.[iii] This is not a trend that can be sustained by the state or by local government budgets over the next decade.

Maryland’s new approach towards school siting and construction within PFA’s can be viewed as a significant first step to reverse these serious public health trends and annual escalation in school related transportation costs. Perhaps with an increased focus on Safe Routes to Schools and improved sidewalk and trail access connecting schools and neighborhoods, in the future both Johnny and Jenny will be able to safely walk or bicycle to schools in the communities in which they live throughout Maryland.


[i]Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health; Maryland State Snapshots, Specific Health Problems and Conditions, 2007 Childhood Obesity State Report Card

[ii] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; CDC Division of Media Relations press release; Oct. 22, 2010;

[iii]MSDE Fact Book: Transportation 2009-2010, pp. 44-45, and MSDE Fact Book 2005-2006, pp. 48-49.