ACTION ALERT: MNCBIA Says Clean Water is Good for Montgomery County but Not for Prince George's County

 

Attention Anacostia Advocates – this Thursday at 10am the Prince George’s County Council’s Transportation, Housing, and Environment (THE) committee will take up CB-80, the clean water bill. Earlier this summer, advocates achieved a major victory for clean water in the Anacostia with the unanimous passage of Montgomery County’s new stormwater regulation. It is now Prince George’s County’s turn to step up to the plate and do its part. Council Bill CB-80 is substantially the same as what was enacted in Montgomery County, highlighted by requiring the same protective stormwater runoff standard in both new development and redevelopment settings. This is vitally important because it will revitalize the older areas of Prince George’s with modern green infrastructure amenities. Studies have shown that green infrastructure like tree plantings and raingardens increase residential property values (references: here and here), and that shopping centers with those same green amenities attract customers who stay longer and spend more money (reference: http://www.caseytrees.org/planning/greener-development/hot-topics/issue-briefs/documents/LRGreenBusinessDistricts.pdf). This is exactly the kind of development Prince George’s County needs: green, attractive, and high quality.

Maryland National Capital Building Industry Association (MNCBIA) is the lobbying organization for many local developers. The Montgomery County stormwater rules were passed after a stakeholder negotiation process in which MNCBIA was a key participant. CB-80 in Prince George’s County is substantially the same as what the builders agreed to in Montgomery County, yet the builders vehemently oppose passage of CB-80. So, apparently clean water rules that are good for Montgomery County are too good for Prince George’s County, at least in the MNCBIA’s view? No wonder we don’t get all the projects we want in Prince George’s when the builders mislead the public this way. It is time we stopped letting these people hold the county hostage and send a strong message that we want high quality development in Prince George’s County.

Let’s call MNCBIA’s position what it is: a cynical ploy to keep polluting our waters and to continue foisting low quality development on Prince George’s County. MNCBIA says that new construction is a minor contributor of nutrient and sediment loads to the Bay – but what about the impact of the existing development on our county’s rivers, the Anacostia and the Patuxent? It has been shown that 88% of Prince George’s County’s waterways are degraded by stormwater runoff, resulting in a $900 million backlog of infrastructure and stream restoration needs (reference: http://www.brightwaterinc.com/ ). They cynically cite the limited impact of new development, ignoring the major impact of existing development, and entering into a campaign to gut a strong bill that would address the stormwater coming from the existing development.

When developers don’t control stormwater runoff on site, they are passing the cost on to taxpayers in the form of costly repairs and retrofits downstream. Why do we let them keep getting away with this? Developers also play on the fears of our older communities by saying they can’t afford to manage their pollution if they are going to build inside the Beltway. But research has shown that new stormwater management techniques that protect our waterways are no more expensive than the traditional practices touted by our local builders (references: http://www.audubonnaturalist.org/default.asp?page=534 and http://www.epa.gov/owow/NPS/lid/costs07/documents/reducingstormwatercosts.pdf) Stand up for clean water and high quality development in Prince George’s County!

Please reach out to your member of county council (http://www.princegeorgescountymd.gov/Government/LegislativeBranch/index.asp?nivel=foldmenu%280%29) to ask him or her to support CB-80. In particular, contact THE members Ingrid Turner, Andrea Harrison, and Tony Knotts and ask them to pass CB-80 out of committee unanimously.

Comments

CB-80

 

Here is “ground” level perspective.  Being an outdoor person, a participant in sub watershed cleanups, as well as active in Greenbelt MD to me the issue isn't simple or complex.  It isn't  CB80.  But it is obvious:

Here in Prince George's County as within our entire DC/MD/VA metropolis our stormwater systems are antiquated.   Add to this new construction of more roads and homes - we now more than ever need laws and regulations to make a valid attempt to protect what we do have.  We need laws to demand and request of those who choose to build here to be mindful of what they are doing and make the effort to protect a part of their building policies - and to work together with us to possibly expand and improve our environmental choices.   To say that this is being done now is false.  To say that people will go elsewhere to build is a scare tactic.   It will still be possible to provide tax breaks and incentives to attract builders that mindfully agree and understand what our needs are and are ready to re-frame their options to still provide them with a financial gain – as well as a heart felt meaningful gain that they made the extra effort to what was best not only for them but the communities, towns and cities that they choose to build in. 

These projects must NOW be done on a format that will provide interdependence to our environment as well as offices and stores and roads - for our people.  For if not – if the importance of our environment continues to be disregard or ignored - we all will suffer.

 

"It's easy to come up with new ideas.  The hard part is letting go of what worked for you two years ago, but will soon be out of date."  Roger Von Orch

 

 

 

 

Progressive development

Thank you AWS for bringing this situation to people's attention. Regardless of any politics involved on either side, we know what one of the builders said previously... Builders will build what they are paid to build. In a world of people who have never expected anything but pavement and sprawl, they will be paid to build more of that. Fortunately we also know that controlling runoff from impervious surfaces is possible and have, through the years, improved on development practices. Those improved practices were embraced and further improved by progressive developers. Progressives were always the exception at first, but once profitability was demonstrated, even the least progressive builders came on board or got out of the business. (i. e. market forces) We now know that the Chesapeake Bay will continue to be degraded until we REDUCE POLLUTANT LOADS. I am interested in verifying any scientific evidence to the contrary. It is difficult for a profit seeking business to bet on anything but the tried and true money maker these days so regulation that reduces pollution is the only effective answer. We can't fault builders for wanting to take the sure bet. We can give the advantage to progressive developers with State regs and County Ordinance that prevent the low bidder from using inadequate stormwater management. Economics are always the excuse, and today is no different. Sorry for the lost jobs, I truly am sorry that low rung developers resisted ESD since 2007 when it appeared in the Maryland Stormwater Management Act of 2007. Now they have all rallied to throw their contempt at AWS as the Prince George's County Council begins to act on good ordinance. I live in Prince George's County and I want them to stop polluting our creeks. If I don't demand that of them and my County Council, who will. We will pay more than $3 billion in stormwater retrofits because this was not done in years past. That is my economic excuse for saying "If they don't want to work here using ESD, let them go." Thanks AWS.

Progressive development

Thank you AWS for bringing this situation to people's attention. Regardless of any politics involved on either side, we know what one of the builders said previously... Builders will build what they are paid to build. In a world of people who have never expected anything but pavement and sprawl, they will be paid to build more of that. Fortunately we also know that controlling runoff from impervious surfaces is possible and have, through the years, improved on development practices. Those improved practices were embraced and further improved by progressive developers. Progressives were always the exception at first, but once profitability was demonstrated, even the least progressive builders came on board or got out of the business. (i. e. market forces) We now know that the Chesapeake Bay will continue to be degraded until we REDUCE POLLUTANT LOADS. I am interested in verifying any scientific evidence to the contrary. It is difficult for a profit seeking business to bet on anything but the tried and true money maker these days so regulation that reduces pollution is the only effective answer. We can't fault builders for wanting to take the sure bet. We can give the advantage to progressive developers with State regs and County Ordinance that prevent the low bidder from using inadequate stormwater management. Economics are always the excuse, and today is no different. Sorry for the lost jobs, I truly am sorry that low rung developers resisted ESD since 2007 when it appeared in the Maryland Stormwater Management Act of 2007. Now they have all rallied to throw their contempt at AWS as the Prince George's County Council begins to act on good ordinance. I live in Prince George's County and I want them to stop polluting our creeks. If I don't demand that of them and my County Council, who will. We will pay more than $3 billion in stormwater retrofits because this was not done in years past. That is my economic excuse for saying "If they don't want to work here using ESD, let them go." Thanks AWS.

An opinion about CB-80 - bad for Prince George's

 

Anyone who has taken the time to actually read the State Stormwater Management Regulations, the MDE “Guidance for Implementation of Local Stormwater Management Programs”, the Montgomery County Approved Stormwater Management regulations (MC-40-10), the Prince George’s County Department of Public Works authored (and MNCBIA supported) CB-79-2010 and the Tom Dernoga authored CB-80-2010 will know that the allegations that are presented here are false.  The fact is that CB-79-2010 much more closely matches the State guidance and MC-40-10 than does CB-80-2010. 

 

First, MC-40-10 and CB-79-2010 allow projects receiving specific approvals by May 4, 2010 to have the ability to apply for an administrative waiver from the new regulations.  This was done to protect the significant investments that developers have made in infrastructure and growth in Prince George’s County.  CB-80-2010 pushes this date- which was fairly negotiated with the state- to September 1, 2009... over a full 6 months earlier with no notice whatsoever to anyone in the development community is both underhanded and unfair to those who operated in good faith based on the state regulations.  

 

Second, CB-80-2010 uses definitions of “BMP” and “Final Project Approval” that are far more restrictive than either CB-79-2010 or MC-40-10 or the State regulations/guidance.

 

Third, CB-80-2010 requires any alternative compliance to be approved by County Council.  CB-79-2010 and MC-40-10 allow alternative compliance decisions to be made by PG DPWT and MC DPS, respectively. 

 

Just about the only thing that CB-80-2010 has in common with MC-40-10 that is not mirrored in the State guidelines and CB-79-2010 pertains to the section on redevelopment.  To jump on this difference and claim that not supporting the entire bill means that MNCBIA cares more about Montgomery County than Prince George’s County is misleading at best.  In fact debating this issue clearly shows that MNCBIA is very concerned about Prince George's County because redevelopment is the type of development that Prince George's needs most. CB-80-2010 will derail redevelopment efforts. The redevelopment regulations is an item worthy of public debate on what Prince George’s County’s stance will be, based on the needs and goals of Prince George’s County, not those of Montgomery County.

Woefully inaccurate facts and opinions

This post bears so many inaccuracies and misleading emotional appeals it is hard to know where to begin.  If the issue weren't so critical to the industry and to the County's fiscal health it wouldn't be worth the effort.  So, going paragraph by paragraph I'll give my take on the worst elements of your post.

Paragraph 1: CB-80 bears very little resemblance to the Montgomery County regulations.  I dare say that if Prince George's had copied Montgomery's version word for word the industry would have supported it.  CB-80 changes the rules that were fairly negotiated at the State level, rules that were supposed to be the model for the County ordinances.  Those rules were the model for the Montgomery version with some strengthening in the redevelopment requirements.  CB-80 contains wholesale changes that are will be economically damaging to the builders, the County and in the end to the environment as potential redevelopment sites remain unimproved for SWM.

Paragraph 2: The MNCBIA is not a lobbying organization, although it does hire lobbyists from time.  This has been especially true over the last few years as necessary to combat the very effective lobbying by environmental groups promoting the kind of misinformation as in your post.  The industry supports clean water rules for Prince George's.  To try and blame the developers for the projects not coming to Prince George's is laughable.  The builder will build what the user will buy.  A more accurate description of why corporations do not come to Prince George's is summed up in CB-80: a last minute back door change to fairly negotiated agreements, changes that do harm to the economic viability of dozens or perhaps hundreds of projects.  While these projects may be subject to older SWM rules, lets not forget that those old rules have been in place only since 2004 and were among the most stringent and effective in the nation.  The 2004 did not need to change, yet the builders supported the changes in 2007 that CB-80 now seeks to exceed.

Paragraph 3: you choose to take a (scientifically verifiable) industry position on stormwater in general (that new development is a small part of water quality degradation, largely mitigated thanks to the current SWM requirements), and misapply it to your arguments about redevelopment.  Then you claim the industry is lying or disingenuous?  I won't take your positions about water quality in Prince George's and try to advance my position on dog food prices in California.  The industry is 100% in support of good water quality in Prince George's County and every County.  CB-80 will not address the backlog of stream restoration projects any more effectively than CB-79 or the State regulations would.  It will actually guarantee that less redevelopment comes to Prince George's County and that less gets done with regard to the backlog.

Paragraph 4.  I can almost agree with this one, at least at the start.  When developers do not control stormwater bad things happen.  However, DEVELOPERS DO CONTROL STORMWATER!  While I've let many of your specific study inaccuracies pass without comment, this final one cannot stand.  The contention that the new SWM is as no more expensive than the current methods is completely untrue.  ESD is a wash on cost only for large lot development, but it is significantly more expensive in terms of the design costs, construction costs, and maintenance costs for all smaller lot development and redevelopment.  This is especially true on redevelopment sites where the area available for development is extremely limited.  Even so, I remind you that we supported the States new requirements that you now seek to alter.

CB-80 is a bad bill: bad for developers, bad for the economy in the County, and bad for the environment.  Throw it out and start over with CB-79, which is the bill written by the County Department of Public Works and Transportation and blessed by the Maryland Department of the Environment..  Debate it openly and fairly to work through any re-development issues as needed, but stop the emotional misinformation.  I can guarantee you that the building industry will be there as your partner, in spite of your unfair and inaccurate portrayal of our association and positions.

For the record, I am a Stormwater Design Professional and a proud member of the MNCBIA.

Misleading information on CB 80

It's obvious that  Anacostia Watershed Society(ACS) will say and do just about anything to suck $$(Donations) from uninformed citizens in Prince Georges County. These accusations are completely inaccurate. CB 80 pushes the necessary approvals back from May 4,2010 to Sept.2009 for grandfathering. On the other hand, Mont. Co.'s ordinance is consistant with the State Bill on this issue and has held the May 4th date.

Mont. Co. modified their ordinance from the State's and requires 100% Stormwater Controls for Redevelopment projects. Unfortunately this action removes the incentive to redevelop in smart growth areas that currently have "0" stormwater controls which could result in pushing development further out into the greenfields. Prince Georges should not follow suit and make the same mistake.

What ACS won't tell you is that all of these older projects provide 100 % "State of the Art" Stormwater Management per MDE's 2000 Ordinance. These practices are still incorporated in the new ordinance. Instead, CB 80 will require projects to be retooled to incorporate ESD measures that are unproven and will only delay projects from moving forward, continue to delay any economic growth and put more people out of work.
 

CB 80 is NOT the same as Mont County SWM Bill

It is incorrect to categorize CB80 as substantially the same as the Montgomery County SWM Bill. CB80 is much more restrictive in grandfathering and in the SWM it requires. If enacted it will stifle economic growth in Prince Georges County. It is misleading to compare the two as substantially the same.

CB 80 compared to Montgomery County bill

How completely wrong this info is regarding CB 80 compared to Montgomery County. This CB 80 reaches back to September 1, 2009 to test approvals and does not provide any consideration for long term residential projects. Montgomery County adopted what the State MDE advised for grandfathering long term residential projects. So we will continue to build quality developments in Montgomery County and nothing in Prince George's County. And forget redevelopment around metro sites, that will never happen if CB 80 passes. Smart Growth ???? How about no growth. See you in Montgomery County, Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County.

PG County needs to stop

PG County needs to stop shooting itself in the foot and make the right choices to encourage development and redevelopment. There is no reason why PG Co. shouldn't be as successful as Mo. Co. Passing CB 80 as-is will be yet another step in the wrong direction.

Re: CB 80 compared to Montgomery County bill

It would be nice to have the appropriate redevelopment at the metro stations. I hope we could do it and still protect our water ways and environment. If there's a problem with this bill, then amending it seems more appropriate than totally defeating it. I appreciate waht AWS and Tom Dernoga are trying to do.

Great Post

Way to get this out Brent and Emily!

I don't happen to live in

I don't happen to live in P.G. Co., but I do appreciate your astute political observations and advocacy.  Keep up the good work!

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