From Delegate Mike Smigiel’s Official Blog . . .
No sooner had the Governor shocked everyone by suggesting that he would be attempting to outlaw all developments of five homes or more from operating on septic systems, than many of the rural legislators began objecting to this ill- conceived idea.
This bill has less to do with cleaning up the Bay than with taking over growth and land use control from the Counties and giving it to the State of Maryland.
Setting aside the arrogant, paternalistic manner with which this idea was thrown out, there are many inconsistencies that will occur if the bill being proposed by Delegate Lafferty, HB-1107, becomes law. For instance, for the last few decades the State has pushed rural areas to “cluster develop”. Currently a builder is allowed to increase the density of a development as an incentive to “cluster develop” and thus, keep from sprawling out over a much greater area of farmland. Cluster developments have resulted in the preservation of large contiguous areas of farm land throughout Maryland. If the Governor’s proposal limiting developments to less than 5 homes is accepted then developments of 4 homes or less, all on septic systems, will be spread out over many acres, creating the very urban sprawl that the State has been trying to eliminate for decades.
The Governor’s Office suggests the answer to rural development will be either, hooking up to municipal systems or building “shared facility” systems. Shared facilities can cost $1 million to build and between $80,000 and $100,000 a year to operate. This means if you have five homes on one of these systems, you would have to pay your share of the $1 million to build it and then pay about $20,000 per year for upkeep.
Under the HB-1107, if I want to build a “major sub-division” I have to build those 5 or more homes where they can be hooked up to municipal water and sewer or I will be required to use a “shared facility”.
In order to get a “shared facility” there has to be a water and sewer category change which is required for 5 or more homes. The category change is preliminarily local and then the State regulatory agencies, Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) & Maryland Department of Planning (MDP) get a final veto power over the category change application.
In addition to the attacks on the sovereignty of the rural counties there are several policy related issues that will result as a product of the passage of this bill.