Council Bill Would Erode Bay Protections

Update: The Baltimore Banner is reporting that Cathy Bevins has withdrawn bill 57-22. 

A Baltimore County bill (57-22) introduced by outgoing council member Cathy Bevins would exempt certain Baltimore County businesses located on the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries from complying with environmental regulations that have protected the Bay for decades. The bill will be discussed at tonight's County Council work session; the final vote is scheduled for September 6. 

The Maryland General Assembly passed the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area law in 1984 because of the declining water quality of the Bay. One of the law’s provisions was the establishment of a Critical Area Buffer of at least 100 feet directly next to the Bay’s tributary streams and tidal waters that could not be developed.

This protective buffer, composed of trees and other vegetation, mitigates runoff from roads, buildings, and other impervious surfaces by acting as a sponge and absorbing sediments, excess nutrients, and other toxic pollutants that would otherwise flow directly into the Bay.

But Bill 57-22 would exempt the owners of marinas and waterfront restaurants with alcohol licenses from having to comply with that crucial buffer. Per the bill: “The uses and structures at such a facility shall be permitted up to the edge of the water with no mitigation or buffer yard requirements.”

As the Baltimore Banner noted, Bevins' district "has a slew of waterfront restaurants within the critical area. Some of them — such as Bowleys on the Bay in Bowleys Quarters, Carson’s Creekside Restaurant in Middle River and Tiki Lee’s Dock Bar in Sparrows Point — have been seeking permits to build accessory structures."

Tonight's council meeting will be held via WebEx, and the public is invited to listen and offer their opinions. If you want to speak at the meeting, you can sign up today until 3:00PM. The sign-up process is explained here. You can also call or email your council member with your views or questions. Information on how to do that is here.

The final reading and vote on the bill will occur at the Baltimore County Council’s Legislative Session on Tuesday, September 6, at 6:00PM. If five council members approve it, the bill is scheduled to take effect on September 19, 2022.

  • Kris Henry
    published this page in BLOG - News 2022-08-30 10:34:24 -0400