After many decades of the City not having a local Forest Conservation Act (FCA) law, they finally stand close to passing one (at the Monday, September 26th meeting). If, that is, developers and their allies weren’t trying to sabotage it at the 11th hour.
The newly proposed ordinance, O-22-16, is a good piece of legislation. If approved with the proposed amendments, it would likely be one of the strongest FCA ordinances in the State. This ordinance deserves support because:
- It would protect more forest and trees than previously required,
- Increases the protection of sensitive areas,
- Improves public transparency so the public can’t be shut out of the process,
- Strengthens the priority forest retention provisions,
- Makes the fee-in-lieu one of if not the strongest in the state,
- Clarifies the appeals process and temporarily prevents forest clearing while appeals are pending.
You can view a full summary by reading Alderman Littman’s summary memorandum.
Many months ago, when this was first introduced, I opposed the legislation. But after testifying before the Planning Commission, the City Council, and the City Council Committees, I’ve changed my mind. These bodies listened to all of us testifying, and considered all of our views, including those of the developers. They have proposed a number of amendments that make this ordinance even stronger. This legislative process worked precisely how it should – they heard the public and seriously considered our views in their amendments. That’s why a number of groups joined me and are now supporting this legislation (with amendments), including the South River Federation, members of the Sierra Club, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Annapolis Neck Peninsula Federation, and members of the Annapolis Environmental Commission.
The legislative process worked as it should. It reached out to all affected, including environmentalists and developers. It included dozens of hours of effort spent by Alderman Littman, Finlayson, Arnett, and Budge. Yet now the developer wants to throw all of that away and are pushing for a delay (here is their letter to the Council). Is that fair to the public? We have been waiting on this ordinance for over 5 years now! We don’t need another delay! We don’t need our hard work during the legislative process thrown away! We don’t want the hard work of our Council members to be thrown away!
Please consider writing the Mayor and Council. Tell them 1. No delay and 2. vote yes on passage. And please consider testifying at the Council meeting if able. The only time to testify on this will be during the general comments section at the beginning of the meeting, which means you won’t have to stay too long at the meeting (starts at 7pm).