A proposed bill by Frederick County Democratic Councilmen Jerry Donald and Kai Hagen is an unwarranted government land grab that is in essence, land confiscation via unnecessary government regulations.

The bill places an additional, needless regulation/restriction on all land bordering waterways (rivers, lakes, ponds, streams). This affects a large swath of private properties and farmland countywide. Any such unnecessary regulation infringes on property rights, can wrongly restrict an owner’s land use and can hurt property values, causing undue harm. All for no credible reason and without compensation to landowners.

This bill is unwarranted, unfair to landowners and represents government overreach. Citizens are speaking up because should the government unnecessarily reduce the property rights of some citizens, it erodes the rights of all citizens. To defend property rights, speak up by emailing the County Council at: councilmembers@frederickcountyMD.gov before Aug. 25.

The proposed bill arbitrarily changes an existing county water buffer regulation (with a buffer range of 100-150 feet wide depending on land slope) to increase it to 100-175+ feet during any subdivision process of waterfront land. An additional 25+ foot buffer restriction deeper into private property is indeed outrageous when there’s not a shred of vital evidence specific to Frederick County waterways to prove a countywide pollution problem exists, meriting more countywide regulations to private land. However, there’s ample, specific evidence proving no countywide water pollution issue exists to justify this regulatory action.

For example, the most recent county stream survey indicates 92 percent of streams don’t have high levels of nitrogen/phosphorous pollutants. A Maryland Department of Natural Resources study rated Frederick County waterways at the highest level of “improving” vs. “degrading” in reduction of nitrogen/phosphorus. No waterways were “degrading.” Moreover, the existing 100-150 foot buffer this bill seeks to needlessly increase, already exceeds or is consistent with federal government guidelines (which suggests 35-100 foot buffer widths for water quality purposes) and with other localities and states. Moreover, numerous layers of federal, state and local pollution reduction regulations also exist making Frederick County waterways some of the most protected in the nation.

Everyone agrees water buffers are beneficial, but there needs to be a reasonable balance where buffers are big enough to benefit but not so big to infringe on property rights. This balance has already been successfully achieved in Frederick County. There is no need for this land grab buffer expansion bill.

Lisa Bell

Emmitsburg

(39) comments

MD1756

rb789 commented that "And the state of MD overall, is expected to meet these pollution reduction reqts by the final end goal date in 2025."

That may have been true earlier, but not now, and that is even while accounting for Maryland backing off on its cleanup goals. The Environmental Integrity Project (led by a former Office of Enforcement director from the US EPA) has recently reported the backtracking of MD and PA, while VA continues to make progress. See: https://environmentalintegrity.org/news/report-shows-failure-to-control-stormwater-pollution-in-chesapeake-bay/ For example they state that "Maryland is also backtracking on the issue of stormwater pollution, allowing 1.5 million pounds more nitrogen pollution from urban and suburban runoff by the deadline than the state pledged back in 2012. The state’s 2019 Bay cleanup plan allows an increase in the amount of nitrogen pollution flowing into the Bay from stormwater by 249,000 pounds per year by 2025, compared to the 2009 baseline. Back in 2012, by contrast, Maryland had been planning for a 1.3 million-pound annual reduction by 2025."

They also have a video about problems around Harrisburg and the Susquehanna river whcih also feeds the Bay. See: https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=222364909163502&notif_id=1597676822384751&notif_t=live_video. Now, rb789 is correct in that urban issues is a growing problem but it is still only a fraction of the pollution load compared to agricultural use. In comments to other articles, I've been equally harsh on other sources of water pollution such as the improper management of Frederick's wastewater, even with lawsuits filed against Frederick, but at least there are significant enforceable requirements against WWTPs and other points sources, unlike for much of farming (other than AFOs/CAFOs).

rb789

Oops. I didn't mean to keep the bottom half of my most recent prior comment in the comment itself. Forgot to delete it. Oh well, it's a description of storm water run off from Chesapeake Bay organization.

rb789

To MD1756 - By the way, you seem eager to rush to blame the AG community for water pollution in your comment. There are multiple sources of pollution to waterways in general, coming from agriculture areas, urban areas, treatment facilities, etc. However, according to Chesapeake Bay organizations and Potomac Conservancy: The FASTEST GROWING SOURCE OF POLLUTION IS URBAN RUN-OFF to the Chesapeake Bay, Potomac River and their watersheds (both of which include Frederick County waterways in their watersheds). Fortunately, given all the regulations already in place including Clean Water Act TMDL pollution reduction reqts for example - the state of MD including Frederick County, are in compliance with TMDL targets. And the state of MD overall, is expected to meet these pollution reduction reqts by the final end goal date in 2025. Things are on a positive trajectory.

is "Stormwater runoff from urban and suburban areas is the fastest growing source of Bay pollution. Stormwater runoff is excess rain and snow melt that is not absorbed into the ground and flows into local waterways and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay. Stormwater runoff includes trash and debris, oil from parking lots, pesticides from lawns, sediment, and other pollutants. Impervious surfaces like roads, buildings, and parking lots increase the amount of runoff collecting pollutants and flowing into our waterways.

Eliminating or reducing the impact of impervious surfaces on forests, wetlands, parks, and conservation areas can preserve the Bay’s natural buffers and help protect waterways from runoff.

MD1756

The facts I got come from the US EPA, MDE and Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Try to deflect as much as you want, but agricultural activities are by far the greatest source of pollutants of concern to the Chesapeake bay. BTW, stormwater runoff includes what runs off farms (crop, AFOs/CAFOs, dairy operations, etc.). Just because agricultural activities aren't growing doesn't mean it's not the largest source of pollution to the bay. The upper Monocacy has not been plagued by the same urban growth as other parts of the Bay's watershed. While things are on a positive trajectory, the water bodies are still impaired and it doesn't reduce the obligation of people/farms/corporations to control their pollution. TMDLs btw are set only for known pollutants (so if you don't measure, you don't know and the TMDLs are set by the state (for political reasons, rarely does EPA get involved in overturning a states TMDL determination) for the designated use. There is a good reason why most of the waterways in Frederick County are not designated by MD as "Tier II High Quality Waters." Those 4 short stretches of waterway loose their Tier II designation as soon as they hit farmland. You can view the map at: https://mdewin64.mde.state.md.us/WSA/TierIIWQ/index.html.

Finally you mention that "state of MD including Frederick County, are in compliance with TMDL targets." That is basically meaningless. The fact is plenty of water bodies are currently impaired. Where they are, they are not in compliance with actual requirements but they are on the "path to compliance" as we called it at EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. When you consider the projected growth (and if you read the comments of other articles you'll see I'm a strong opponent of human population growth), all sources contributing to pollution in the Bay need to reduce their pollution. Just because the polluters have been getting a bye for so long doesn't mean they don't need to step up and take responsibility now. Let's face it, you don't have the right to pollute other people's resources.

matts853

MD, I’m 99.9% sure that rb is the author. Her claims are unsupported by any credible source. During the Monocacy River Plan process she was disproved over and over. This letter is more of the same nonsense. I appreciate you trying to present the facts, but you’re wasting your time. They just don’t matter to her.

rb789

It’s the same old regular groupies on the FNP comments thread that wrongly name-call anyone they disagree with. It seems they remain blind to any facts that counter their own narrative. Some say this article is full of lies, but that in itself is 100% disingenuous! Every fact in this article is truthful and can be accurately sourced. Ample govt data specific to Frederick County waterways clearly show there is NO evidence to prove a county-wide water quality problem exists to merit any more county-wide regulations on private land bordering water bodies as proposed in the bill. The buffer expansion bill is a “govt land grab” through unnecessary govt regulations. The trolls here saying otherwise, can't dispute the facts, so they just make stuff up and sling mud. Disgraceful.

threecents

What do you mean by a "govt land grab"?

matts853

Finally crawled out from under the bridge after 3 months of no comments Welcome back rb.

matts853

Name calling, Lisa? You mean names like “groupies” and “trolls” in your comment? Come on, you can do better!

Hayduke2

rb789 - Spoken like one the Bell's....

MD1756

If you could keep your pollution on your own property (without destroying the land and groundwater on your property), then you'd have an argument. However, it is clear from the data that too many owners of property along the waterways cannot or will not control their pollution otherwise the waterways would not be impaired and the Chesapeake Bay would not be impaired. Since property owners are not controlling the pollution on their own, they need regulations to force them to comply.

Agricultural sources are the primary sources of pollution. For example see: https://mde.maryland.gov/programs/Water/TMDL/DocLib_UpperMonocacy_02140303/Upper_Monocacy_BSID_Report_final.pdf which states "Data suggest that the degradation of biological communities in the Upper Monocacy

River watershed is strongly influenced by agricultural land use and its concomitant

effects: altered hydrology and elevated levels of sediments and nutrients."

or see: https://www.cbf.org/how-we-save-the-bay/chesapeake-clean-water-blueprint/what-is-killing-the-bay.html where it indicates that agricultural runoff accounts for 45% of the nitrogen pollution (the 2nd largest source accounting for 19% is from vehicles and power plants).

From MDE's webpage: https://mde.maryland.gov/programs/Water/TMDL/TMDLImplementation/Pages/pollution-in-the-chesapeake.aspx#origins_of "Agricultural Sources of nutrients produce about half of the total excess nutrients flowing into the Chesapeake (leaving MDE). Agriculture contributes primarily nonpoint source pollution and has a less severe immediate environmental impact. While no one farm adds much pollution to the Bay, the cumulative amount of diffuse pollution has significant impacts on water quality."

So while you may not be getting fishkills from the runoff of any one farm the cumulative impact is great, thus the need to regulate it. Your just lucky the requirements do not come with heavy fines.

threecents

Wow, It is so sweet of her to worry about our rights to develop and pollute our own land and the water around our property, but I think most of us are OK with that constraint.

trwz

How much compensation do you think you deserve, Lisa?

threecents

No, it is strictly about the principle of her constitutional rights as a capitalist American to do whatever she wants with her property, and we communist fascist liberals can't take that away from her. The environment will be fine. Humans can't hurt the environment.

trwz

It's all about Lisa getting compensated.

matts853

Look up Agenda 21. That’s what’s at the heart of this.

Greg F

How much should the landowner compensate citizens for decades of pollution and damage from runoff and the cleanup needed for that? Fair market value is about all you should be getting and possibly a minor amount for PROVEN income lost, if there is or ever was any. Eminent domain is what this is....but they should be providing fair market value if you actually lose ownership like would be if they had put a highway through. You probably gain some value for having a piece of land that isn't full of chemicals and turned into a plowed wasteland.

Hayduke2

Once again, Ms. Bell and her husband are pushing incorrect facts, trying to stoke up fear and generally trying to deny science. She was wrong with her and her husbands coup to take over the River Board and she is wrong now. The water ways and their health is a concern to all. This made up "land grab" is NONSENSE. Please go away.

Dwasserba

"Citizens are speaking up because should the government unnecessarily reduce the property rights of some citizens, it erodes the rights of all citizens." I re-read to find this sentence, because my first reaction was, how many readers live on water, I don't.

matts853

That sentence has been her tag line since day 1. I’ve heard it ad nauseam to the point that I’ve learned to tune it out. This county council did the same thing which is why we walked away from her and her husband who was chairman of the River Board.

And, Applying Lisa’s logic I assume she feels that Donald Trump has eroded her rights as well. But you never hear any objection from his supporters or from the paranoid Qanon crowd. Not saying at all that Lisa is part of that crowd, but the rhetoric is eerily similar. But my spidey senses detect a double standard.

bosco

Maybe you need to work on that tuning her out, matt. She seems to be getting under your skin today. [thumbup][ninja]

matts853

Move along, Bosco.

bosco

I see the cancel culture is inculcated in you, matt. Thanks for helping to demonstrate that the left wants to shut down and shut out free speech. [thumbup][ninja]

Hayduke2

Once again Bosco makes a giant leap in analysis and tries to push those buttons. In case you don't understand, here's the definition: One who likes to push buttons. That is, a person who enjoys getting people irritated and starting fights and arguments; a colloquial term for an instigator.

phydeaux994

A Troll hay. bosco is here to push buttons, get a response. Irritate, agitate, instigate, stir the pot and then sit back and giggle at his creation. All day long, every day.

bosco

Fido! I see you are the pot calling the kettle black again. I'm sure nothing you ever post could be such. Nice try.

The button must indeed be connected to a nerve.

[ninja]

MD1756

I don't "live on [the] water" but I require water to live. Additionally, others require clean water to earn their living (dead zones in the bay don't help those harvesting resources from the bay).

bosco

The most important thing I learned about streams growing up was to never drink downstream from the herd.

[ninja]

DickD

Because you didn't want to talk dirty Bosco, with a mouth full? [lol]

matts853

Best comeback ever DD!!

bosco

And to be careful if you squat with your spurs on. [scared][ninja]

FrederickFan

Most people know this woman is oddly focused on claiming someone is "grabbing her land" when no one has ever done any such thing. It's like crying wolf! She lacks any credibility. Three cheers to Jerry Donald for supporting buffers to protect our waterways. Email the county council to support this important legislation.

matts853

Right on FF!!!

Hayduke2

FF - spot on!

matts853

And BTW, Lisa, the assertions you make about water quality, buffers, existing protections, etc. just ain’t so. We went through all this with the River Plan. You were wrong then and you’re still wrong now.

matts853

Hi Lisa. I really wish you would stop with your conspiracy land grab nonsense. Our rivers and streams are dirty. The Monocacy just had a major fish kill. Landowners need to be team players in getting things cleaned up. No one is stealing your land. Trump is stealing land along the border for his wall, but no one here is that corrupt.

Matt Seubert

Dwasserba

Thank you for being an informed person and sharing it.

DickD

If the only reason for not increasing the buffer zone is to allow more building close to the stream, I am for the bill. As far as stream cleanliness that would change very quickly with development all along streams. That is a apple/oranges comparison.

TomWheatley

Exactly. everyone re-read the section about during any subdivision of waterfront land. The proposed setback is only during a subdivision, aka, houses. We are not talking about farm runoff, but rather septic areas and homeowners overusing fertilizer to impress neighbors with their green grass. Most, if not all farmers are very careful with their use of fertilizers.

An acre of ground is roughly 221 feet square and zoning in the upper part of the County would not allow for one acre lots. It is more like 5 or even 25 acres in some places. In order to maximize profit from selling waterfront property, you want to have as many lots touching the riverbank as possible. Therefore, long narrow lots are best with maybe 100 foot waterfront and somewhere around 400' to 1000' deep. Having a setback for the house at 100 feet or 125 feet will make very little difference.

"The proposed bill arbitrarily changes an existing county water buffer regulation (with a buffer range of 100-150 feet wide depending on land slope) to increase it to 100-175+ feet during any subdivision process of waterfront land. "

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