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Hampstead learns duties under planning act


The Hampstead Town Council learned about its responsibility to local sensitive land areas last night during the monthly council meeting.

Scott Fisher, Marlene Conaway and Brenda Dinne of Carroll County's planning department presented slides and information about how the Hampstead government can meet the requirements of the state's 1992 Planning Act.

State law requires local governments to add to their comprehensive plans an environmental resources element to protect streams and their buffers, 100-year flood plains, steep slopes and habitats of threatened or endangered species.

In the slide presentation, Ms. Dinne showed the council -- minus Gary Bauer and Jacqueline Hyatt -- what the "sensitive" areas look like and how they can be protected. For example, mapping sensitive areas would help ensure that development doesn't encroach on environmental resources, Ms. Dinne said.

"These are goals and objectives, suggested and recommended definitions for these areas," Ms. Conaway said. "We've also reviewed existing regulations to see what we're already doing, and we're doing a lot."

The county formed an interjurisdictional committee in January to draft environmental proposals for each municipality's comprehensive plans. The committee suggests that towns should protect reservoir watersheds, wetlands and stream buffers, which are not specifically mentioned in the state law.

Steering committee members also encouraged the town to map its protected areas so officials can monitor how close developers come to encroaching on a protected area.

"This presentation is what that steering committee sees as its goals and objectives," Ms. Dinne said before the meeting. "They [the officials] need to know this. A lot of them are not even aware the state requires them to do this."

Ms. Dinne said she has talked to the Manchester and Union Bridge governments. Other Carroll municipalities have scheduled presentations for January and February.

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