On Tuesday, July 19, 2011, Prince George's County Council took an important step forward by unanimously passing a new stormwater ordinance (CB-15-2011).
Our biggest champions were Transportation, Housing and Environment (THE) committee chair Eric Olson (District 3) and THE member Mary Lehman (District 1); both worked hard to improve the bill after the original draft of CB-15 handed down by County Executive Rushern Baker was a disappointment to environmental and community organizations.
Streambank erosion in Paint Branch (College Park) caused by severe stormwater flows
Over a series of THE committee hearings in June, we were able to effect several improvements to the bill. When Karen Toles (District 7) attempted weakening amendments, Council Chair Ingrid Turner (District 4) and THE member Obie Patterson (District 8) were strong supporters of holding onto the improvements. Important changes made include:
Developers were not happy with even these modest improvements, and came out Tuesday and testified against CB-15 on the same old tired points. The short version of their testimony would be, "Prince George's County can't afford these environmental protections." That is all they think of Prince George's County and yet they still wield a lot of political power. Why did many of these developers agree to much stronger provisions in Montgomery County?
On Tuesday the developers got one change they most wanted when provisions were modified dealing with the expiration of permits grandfathered under the old, lesser stormwater management rules. Sadly one of the five votes needed to pass this developer friendly amendment was none other than Leslie Johnson.
In environmental work progress is sometimes incremental. AWS is not at all satisfied with this bill, but it is an important step forward. Prince George's County now has the second strongest stormwater bill in the state of Maryland, after Montgomery County's truly progressive bill passed a year ago. DC will be at a 1.2" redevelopment stormwater standard when their Clean Water Act permit is finalized, so the DC and Montgomery half of the watershed is well protected while the Prince George's half is on its way. That is not nearly enough for the Anacostia, but it is a good start.
Gazette article on stormwater bill
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