Next Chapter for Ten Mile Creek
Planning Board Amendment Recommendations Due in April
From CM Board Reports
Photo of Ten Mile Creek by Danny Rosenberg for Montgomery Countryside Alliance
The future of Ten Mile Creek -- Montgomery's last, best, most biologically diverse stream, and one of Montgomery County's designated drinking water supplies -- still remains in question.
More than 100 citizens attended a February meeting of the Planning Department in Clarksburg, to discuss the future of Ten Mile Creek and its watershed. Residents and environmental experts described the existing watershed, habitat and biological conditions and asked that they be preserved from large commercial and residential development proposals that threaten its existence. Audubon Naturalist Society and its partners in the Ten Mile Creek effort, including Montgomery Countryside Alliance and Conservation Montgomery, notified citizens countywide about this meeting as part of their ongoing work to protect Ten Mile Creek. Ten Mile Creek straddles the border of the County's world-famous Agricultural Reserve.
The Planning Board is proposing an amendment that will determine how the community-building goals for Clarksburg's Town Center District can be achieved, while at the same time protecting the Ten Mile Creek watershed. This is the result of a Council decision in October 2012 to approve a Limited Master Plan Amendment for the entire Ten Mile Creek watershed. The plan is to be delivered to the Council by the Fall of 2013, and a team of consultants will assist staff to expedite the process.
One study shows that the Ten Mile Creek watershed land cover is 46% forested and 4% impervious, with "steep slopes, shallow bedrock and erodible soils" along the waterway.
The watershed's interior forest plays an important role in connecting the woodlands of Little Bennett Regional Park to those of Black Hills Regional Park - a "connector of two biological hubs." A designated drinking water supply and where trout have been seen by eyewitnesses in recent years, Ten Mile Creek flows steadily, clear and cold, and teems with fish, many different kinds of aquatic insects, salamanders and other life forms.
Members of the Planning Board and their staff hosted an open work session in mid-March, and met with community groups. The next step is to wait for staff recommendations, which should be announced in April and with two more Planning Board work sessions leading to a formal hearing in July. These are the next critical points in the process. Audubon Naturalist Society staff and their partners will need to analyze and scrutinize these proposals. Stay tuned.
Council Committee Considers Tree Conservation Legislation
Bill 35-12 and Bill 41-12 back in committee on April 1st
The County Council Transportation and Environment Committee continues to review two tree bills intended to protect our street and roadside trees and trees that compose our important urban canopy. Both bills are facing strong opposition from developers.
Committee members will convene for a third work session on April 1st to iron out some of the issues raised by stakeholders on both tree bills. Find a packet on Bill 35-12 here that summarizes recent activity on the legislation.
Unlike what county residents may have heard from erroneous e-mails complaining that the bills are an invasion of property rights, these bills do not limit or eliminate a homeowner's ability to cut trees down on their lot. Instead, they require that fees be paid when removals occur during development that requires a Sediment Control Permit so that canopy lost to development may be replaced. By requiring a fee for significant tree removal, Bill 35-12 (the Urban Canopy Bill sponsored by County Executive Ike Leggett) creates a disincentive for needless tree removal, which is a well-known problem in Montgomery County. However, when trees must be removed, Bill 35-12 will generate modest fees so the County can replace what has been lost - something that is not currently mandated.
Bill 41-12, the street and roadside tree bill, also allows for increased planting activity and provides the county with improved oversight over trees along our streets in the public rights of way. Both tree bills have been discussed for over five years with interested stakeholders. Neither bill contradicts or duplicates existing County or State tree legislation. They update outdated and ineffective legislation so the County may offer rudimentary protections for needless removal of trees, while allowing flexibility for removals when required. Fees must be paid to attempt to replace canopy lost when trees must be removed.
"Trees continue to be removed needlessly and are not being replaced at a reasonable rate. This situation must be addressed," said Conservation Montgomery Vice Chair Ginny Barnes. "In order to improve upon the quality of life for future generations we need to ensure the continued robust presence of a vital County resource - its trees."