The following is from the October edition of a monthly column written by Anne Arundel County Councilman Dick Ladd (R-5th District), a resident of the Broadneck peninsula.
A wide range of issues have come before the Council since our August hiatus.
First, there appears to be a growing interest from residents in District 5 who would like to raise chickens in their backyards. I have been asked on several different occasions to support legislation which would change the zoning code to permit chickens on single family, residential lots of less than one acre. After being reminded that there is a difference between roosters and “non-crowing” chickens, I have agreed to co-sponsor a zoning change (Bill 79-13) which will permit residents to keep a limited number of chickens in one’s backyard in a prescribed enclosure with appropriate lot line setbacks after being issued a license by the Health Department.
A copy of the bill can be
found at http://www.aacounty.org/CountyCouncil/Resources/2013/79-13.pdf. Annapolis
City already allows
chickens, and it is my understanding that it is working out well. More and more local jurisdictions are also
addressing this issue.
A public hearing will be held on October 21 at 7:00 p.m. at the Arundel Center. I would love to have your thoughts on this matter before the hearing. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call my office to let us know what you think (410-222-1401).
Another bill (76-13) which I am co-sponsoring will incorporate a number of changes to the recently passed County Critical Area Code requested by the Critical Area Commission to better align our code with their requirements and to include specific reference to Commission “grandfathering” provisions. This, in my opinion, helps make clear that the primary focus of critical area restrictions is on development activity rather than care and maintenance of existing, long-standing residential uses.
It is very important to remember that there are limits on the percentage of a lot that may be covered with impervious surfaces or uses. That limit has been 25 percent. The new limit for existing developed residential lots remains 25 percent – courtesy of “grandfathering” -- unless redevelopment is proposed. The limit for previously undeveloped residential lots is now 15 percent. On an existing residential lot you can “repurpose” or “redevelop” existing impervious surface area and may be required to slightly reduce the total amount of existing impervious surface when and if you seek to rearrange the amount of covered area in your yard.
It also clarifies that approval is not required to do “limited grading” (up to 5,000 sq. ft.) in the critical area outside of the 100’ buffer or expanded buffer area. This helps make clear that maintenance of one’s trees and removal of hazardous trees (but not complete clearing of a lot) can be accomplished without an approved permit provided less than 5,000 sq. ft. of ground is involved and that area is outside of the buffer or expanded buffer.
This is important for Severna Park and Broadneck residents. Most of our area’s waterfront (critical area) residential lots are already developed with mature and robust tree canopies. It is maintenance of these canopies which can require selective removal of conflicting trees. The development of new lots from raw land and redevelopment of existing pervious surface on residential lots is more than grading -- notwithstanding the 5,000 sq. ft. limit -- and require a range of approval and permits.
One final, vexing non-legislative issue needs to be noted. It centers on services such as road maintenance, sewer line maintenance, and snow plowing typically provided by the County. In some communities, these services are the responsibility of the Home Owners Association (HOA) depending on whether or not the developers arranged for the County to accept ownership of the infrastructure.
Some of these HOA maintained projects are now over 30 years old. At that point, the effects of aging start showing up and the original residents who probably were aware of the HOA maintenance responsibilities have moved on. The common challenge is recognizing and dealing with the financial implications for the current residents and owners. This is a “pay me now or pay me later” situation. Each situation is different but we can assist in developing a possible solution. It is a very frustrating and time-consuming process, one better started before there is an “emergency” rather than after. Feel free to call me if you would like to discuss this further.
Finally, I am pleased to note that Phase I of the Broadneck Hiker-Biker trail and the fully-modernized playground at Broadneck Park were officially opened September 28. Be sure to take a look at the new Pirate Ship docked at the Park.