Ulman kills Howard County land preservation plan

'Room for compromise' on bill

CLARKESVILLE, Md - If you live in the city or a big development you've probably not heard of Senate Bill 236 which is now law.

But if you live on a farm, it's been keeping you awake every night since May.

"Why don't you stick to what the county council says they got good sense you're in politics and want to be governor and then screw everybody?"

The law requires every Maryland county to divide its area into four tiers to limit nitrogen runoff into the bay

Tier one is land and development already on sewer. Tier two is land for new development on sewer. Tier three is for rural homes and business on septic. Tier four is for rural preservation land, which means no major developments.

And folks in tier four are not happy.

"Our farm in Lisbon is 176 acres. As an example, 236, the way it was proposed, will decrease the value of that farm by 80 percent," said Marge Cissel.

Marge Cissel's family has owned their turf farm forever and put it in preservation years ago.

The value of the land is in its potential.

And potentially hundreds of homes could be built on any large farm if the owners chose to sell.

She says limits kill the value, and with no value there's no farming.

 "We're on the list of watersheds that feed the bay we're way down western Howard County is way down on the list and as to preserving agriculture if you're going to do that you have to preserve the farmer." Cissel says.

Howard County came up with its plan after several months of work.

Today using his first veto ever, County Executive Ken Ulman sent things back to the drawing board.

He says his original plan, the green map, would have placed more land into tier 4, limiting potential sprawl.

The council approved the plan, the red map would have given farmers more value.

He says with such difference they need to go back to the drawing board.

"I introduced a map that had 59 farms on them included in what's tier four that limits the amount of development on them the council took every one of them off so certainly there's room to compromise and room to work together." County Executive Ken Ulman says.

And for Howard County time is running out.

Every Maryland county is mandated to have a plan approved and ready to go by January first.

Ulman and a good chunk of Western Howard County have to come to some terms.

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