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Session Laws, 2004
Volume 801, Page 2478   View pdf image
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Ch. 526                                    2004 LAWS OF MARYLAND

Commission or the Attorney General; declaring and clarifying certain findings of
the General Assembly; altering the application of a certain defined term;
providing for the application of this Act; and generally relating to the
enforcement of the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Critical Area
Protection Program.

BY repealing and reenacting, with amendments,
Article - Natural Resources

Section 8-1801, 8-1802(a), 8-1808, 8-1808.5(a), 8-1815, and 8-1815.1
Annotated Code of Maryland
(2000 Replacement Volume and 2003 Supplement)


WHEREAS, With the enactment of the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area
Protection Act in 1984, State lawmakers recognized the major detrimental impact of
development activity along the shoreline of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries,
an area that is pivotal to the preservation and protection of water quality and natural
habitat; and

WHEREAS, Two years later, in approving the State Critical Area program and
its criteria, the General Assembly specified the need for a shoreline buffer of at least
100 feet, and this minimum buffer has been an essential critical area component ever
since that time; and

WHEREAS, Also considered fundamental to the critical area criteria since their
inception in the mid-1980s is, under certain circumstances, the allowance of
variances to a local jurisdiction's critical area program; and

WHEREAS, In keeping with an equitable application of critical area
requirements, on average 90% or more of the variances requested each year have
been granted; and

WHEREAS, The General Assembly has always recognized, nevertheless, that
attainment of critical area program goals necessitates a clear authority in support of
local jurisdictions when, in their discretion, a variance must be denied; and

WHEREAS, From the beginning of the critical area program in the mid-1980s
through 1999, courts consistently interpreted the variance standard of unwarranted
hardship in accordance with the intent of the General Assembly, that is, as a
deprivation of the reasonable use of the entire property which is equivalent to an
unnecessary or unreasonable hardship; and

WHEREAS, In 2002, with a particular awareness of the growing danger to
water quality and natural habitat presented by the magnitude of waterfront
development, the General Assembly expanded the application of critical area
protections so as to include the ecologically sensitive Atlantic Coastal Bays and their
tributaries; and

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Session Laws, 2004
Volume 801, Page 2478   View pdf image
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