County girds for new septic law
Washington County is discussing how to adjust to a new state law on septic systems.
The Maryland General Assembly passed the Sustainable Growth and Agricultural Preservation Act of 2012 this year. It establishes four tiers, or types of land, and regulations on whether septic systems or public sewers can be used in each category.
Residential development will be allowed based on the restrictions on the tier a project is in.
Jill Baker, a senior planner for the county, explained the tiers on Tuesday for the Washington County Board of Commissioners.
Stephen T. Goodrich, the county’s planning director, said the law takes effect on July 1. Counties must adopt a tier system in their comprehensive plans by Dec. 31.
He said the consequences are “not well defined” if a county does not comply.
There is an Oct. 1 deadline for projects to get a “grandfather” exemption from the tier system, as long as they are approved within 18 months, according to a memorandum Goodrich prepared.
Commissioners President Terry Baker said he wants a few weeks to process the changes before the county decides what to do.
The county has some leeway. For example, it can change its definition for a “minor subdivision” from five lots or fewer to as much as seven lots or fewer.
A summary from the Maryland Association of Counties said: “After December 31, 2012, a county may not authorize a major residential subdivision on septic systems unless it has adopted a series of four land use tiers. If a county chooses not to adopt the tiers, it is limited to subdivisions on public sewer or minor subdivisions on septic systems.”
The county plans to contact as many local developers as possible to tell them about the imminent changes.
State easement priority list approved
The Washington County Board of Commissioner on Tuesday approved a list prioritizing the properties eligible for a state easement program.
The county can forward up to five recommendations to the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation program.
A county memorandum about the easement program said the county’s rankings, by law, have to remain secret, but the list of applicants can be made public.
There are 16 property owners on the county’s list. The properties range from about 33 acres to about 373 acres.
Juniors volleyball team recognized
A Washington County Juniors Volleyball team was congratulated on Tuesday for winning an invitation to a Junior National Championship competition in Columbus, Ohio, from June 29 to July 2.
The under-13 Twisters finished second in April in a Chesapeake Regional Volleyball Open Division, according to a team letter to the Washington County Board of Commissioners.