To help protect property rights from government overreach causing needless harm, tell the Frederick County Council to vote down the “Water Buffer Bill” proposed by Councilmen Kai Hagen and Jerry Donald with support from County Executive Jan Gardner. Send your email now to: Councilmembers@frederickcountyMD.gov before the vote on Sept. 15 at 5:30 p.m.
Any council member voting for this bill is essentially, endorsing a government “taking” of private land via arbitrary government regulations. All without just cause or compensation to owners. This is fundamentally and morally wrong.
Both the highly regarded Frederick County Farm Bureau and Association of Realtors are against the bill with serious concerns. Even the Frederick County Planning Commission voted unanimously to reject the bill and recommend to the council that it not be passed.
There’s a right way and a wrong way for the government to acquire private land. The right way is to buy it from a willing seller or acquire it under the law of eminent domain, requiring just cause and compensation to landowners. The wrong way is to take control of private land through an unethical, back-door way of unnecessary government regulations.
This harmful, unnecessary bill is a step in the wrong direction. And because one bad step can lead to another, it begs the question: Whose property rights could be infringed upon next? Yours? This is why it’s vital to prevent government overreach large or small.
The Buffer Bill affects countless properties and farms county-wide that are contiguous to water bodies including rivers, lakes and streams. It seeks to change county law to needlessly increase the existing 100-150 foot wide buffer setback requirement further into waterfront land during any land subdivision process. This existing buffer requirement is already 2-3 times larger than a commonly recommended 50-foot-wide buffer for water protection in 49 states nationwide (Blinn & Kilgore). It also meets/surpasses federal government buffer standards (35-100 feet) for water protection.
The Farm Bureau was spot on when they said the bill’s “unnecessary restrictions can cause undue harm to landowners and farmers by infringing on property rights; reducing a landowner’s ability to use their own land; and can negatively impact property values. In this case, for no credible reason or compensation to owners.”
Moreover, after causing undue harm, the bill’s increased buffer size will have no practical effect to improve water quality (which is the purpose of the bill) due to significant diminishing returns in effectiveness of larger buffers in filtering pollutants. According to Yale University: “Studies unanimously support the conclusion that buffer efficiency at filtering out pollutants increases with width. However, this does not…