What is the
The Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Protection Act was enacted in 1984 by the Maryland General Assembly to help reverse the deterioration of the Chesapeake Bay. The act designated all land within 1,000 feet of tidal waters or wetlands as a “Critical Area” – areas with the greatest potential to affect water quality, wildlife habitats, and overall ecological health. The act addresses three primary goals: minimization of runoff; conservation of fish, wildlife and plant habitat; and accommodation of future growth with respect to the environmental impact of development.
Maryland’s Critical Area Program was expanded in 2002 to include the Atlantic coastal bays, and currently there are 64 jurisdictions with local Critical Area programs. The programs are implemented primarily through local zoning codes and subdivision regulations. They include provisions that limit the percentage of development on a site, restrict development on steep slopes, control forest clearance, require stormwater quality management, and specify a 100-foot forested buffer area as part of development projects.
In 2008 Governor Martin O’Malley, the Critical Areas Commission and state agencies worked with the General Assembly to make comprehensive changes to the law, reaffirming the significance of the Chesapeake Bay as a resource, and the Critical Areas in the restoration of the Bay. The amendments focused primarily on strengthening provisions relating to enforcement, the location of future growth, shore erosion control measures, and lot coverage – as these are as essential to Maryland’s efforts to restore the Chesapeake.
Bay Smart - A Citizen's Guide to Maryland's Critical Area Program(9.8MB PDF File - Opens with Acrobat)
- Mary Owens
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