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Forest Conservation Bill Poses Significant Threat to Development in Anne Arundel County

Anne Arundel County Council Bill No. 68-19, which was recently introduced at the request of County Executive Steuart Pittman, presents serious concerns for the development industry in Anne Arundel County. The bill introduces several key changes to the Forest Conservation Act which have the potential to make development in Anne Arundel County more challenging. 


Similar to other bills which were introduced and ultimately rejected by the Maryland General Assembly in 2018 and 2019, Bill 68-19 prioritizes forest as the most important factor in considering buildable density.  In its current draft, the bill would dramatically increase on-site forest preservation, replanting requirements and fee-in-lieu options.  The bill would also change the definition of “priority forest retention areas” and require a finding of unreasonable hardship before an administrative variance to clear certain forested areas could be approved. Other highlights include:

  • Forest conservation becomes the highest priority over buildable opportunities.

  • Significant increase in onsite forest mitigation; as much as 60%.      

  • Reduced land for commercial and industrial development.

  • Relies on “ecosystem services valuation” to set mitigation fee at $108,000 per acre.
  • Increases the percentage of sites which must be replanted for forest mitigation.

Several development industry groups, including NAIOP and MBIA, have been working with the County Council to educate them on the impacts of the bill.  The County Council will hold a public hearing on October 7, 2019, where it will accept public testimony on the bill. Rosenberg Martin Greenberg Land Use and Zoning attorney Adam Baker is actively participating in that process. 

If there are particular sites which you own or are seeking to develop in Anne Arundel County, contact Adam Baker for more details on Bill 68-19 and its potential impact; 410-727-6600 or by email abaker@rosenbergmartin.com.