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Board gets heads-up on ordinance updates

(2/21) Emmitsburg town staff advised the Board of Commissioners at their February 17 meeting that two ordinances in need of updating would be coming before them in the near future.

The first will be the ordinance regulating reforestation.

Town Planner Susan Cipperly told the News-Journal that the reforestation is mandated by the state and that the town ordinance is patterned after state law. Basically, among other aspects of reforestation, the ordinance requires the replacement of trees removed during development.

The overall purpose of the regulations is to prevent a vegetative deficit within a region, a deficit meaning more trees are being destroyed than replaced. A deficit in tree coverage can affect erosion and soil loss rates, among other adverse effects, for example loss of habitat for various types of wildlife.

Cipperly stated that the updating of the town reforestation ordinance is essentially overdue. Since 2008 it has been needed to be updated to bring it into compliance with changes at the state level. The changes are generally not significant, entailing mostly definition changes and calculation information, and that otherwise, "Itís just been something we needed to do."

The second overdue ordinance concerns flood plain regulations.

Cipperly stated that the last time the town flood plain regulations (which are required by federal law) were updated was in the early 1990s. She said the need to update the town regulations followed on the heels of a meeting with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The federal agency pointed out the need for updating in a follow-up letter subsequent to the meeting.

Again, the revisions are relatively minor, including amending or adding definitions and some jurisdictional changes.

The town planner said the town attorney also recommended moving the regulations to the town zoning code in order to provide a process for individuals to appeal the rules. The current flood plain ordinance is a stand-alone ordinance, and does not provide an appeal process.

Cipperly said she brought the two ordinances to the attention of the commission at their meeting "get (the proposed changes) on their radar," and that the drafts will likely be on the agenda for the second meeting in March.

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