Dorchester County, MD
 
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of County Commissioners of Dorchester County 1-25-1994 as Ord. No. 228. Amendments noted where applicable.]

§ 96-1 Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to establish minimum technical standards for the submission and approval of a forest stand delineation, forest conservation plan and other performance standards enumerated herein. The County Commissioners have determined that to meet the requirements of Natural Resources Article, § 5-1601 et seq., Annotated Code of Maryland, the provisions of this chapter must be enacted.

§ 96-2 Authority.

This chapter receives its authority from Natural Resources Article, §§ 5-1601 through 5-1612, Annotated Code of Maryland, and COMAR 08.19.01-08.19.06.

§ 96-3 Definitions.

As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
A. 
Establishment of a forest on an area from which forest cover has been absent for a long period of time;
B. 
Planting of open areas which are not presently in forest cover; or
C. 
Establishment of a forest according to procedures set forth in the Dorchester County Forest Conservation Technical Manual.
AGRICULTURAL AND RESOURCE AREA
Those areas of Dorchester County with the following zoning classifications as identified on the official Dorchester County Zoning Map(s): Conservation District (C); Agricultural-Residential District (A-R); Maritime-Agricultural-Residential (M-A-R); R-1 Residential District and the R-2 Residential District (if the parcel is not served by central water and sewer).
CHAMPION TREE
The largest tree of its species within the United States, the state, county or municipality.
COMMISSION
The Dorchester County Planning Commission.
COUNTY
The County Commissioners of Dorchester County.
CRITICAL HABITAT AREAS
A critical habitat for endangered species and its surrounding protection area. A "critical habitat area" shall:
A. 
Be likely to contribute to the long-term survival of the species;
B. 
Be likely to be occupied by the species for the foreseeable future; and
C. 
Constitute habitat of the species which is deemed critical under Title 4, Subtitle 2A, Section 6, §§ 4-2A-04 and 10-2A-06 of the Natural Resources Article, Annotated Code of Maryland.
DEPARTMENT
Either the Department of Planning and Zoning or the Dorchester County Highway Department, whichever is applicable.
DORCHESTER COUNTY FOREST CONSERVATION TECHNICAL MANUAL
The Forest Conservation Manual -- Guidance for the Conservation of Maryland's Forests During Land Use Changes Under the 1991 Forest Conservation Act, dated December 31, 1991. The term shall also apply to any amendment of the manual or any locally authored manual which supersedes the state manual.
FOREST
A biological community dominated by trees and other woody plants covering a land area of 10,000 square feet or greater. This area must have a tree density of at least 100 living trees per acre, with at least 50% of those trees having a two-inch or greater diameter at 4.5 feet above the ground. A "forest" includes areas that have been cut but not cleared. "Forest" does not include orchards or Christmas tree plantations.
FOREST CONSERVATION
The retention of existing forest or the creation of new forest at the levels prescribed by the local authority.
FOREST CONSERVATION PLAN
A plan approved pursuant to this chapter.
FOREST MANAGEMENT PLAN
A plan establishing best conservation and management practices for a landowner in assessment of the resource values of forested property.
FOREST STAND DELINEATION
The description of the existing vegetation on a site proposed for development, prepared pursuant to this chapter.
INTERMITTENT STREAM
A stream in which surface water is absent during a part of the year as shown on the most recent seven-and-five-tenths-minute topographical quadrangle published by the United States Geological Survey or as confirmed by field verification.
MAINTENANCE AGREEMENT
The short-term management agreement associated with afforestation or reforestation plans required under Natural Resources Article, § 5-1605, Annotated Code of Maryland, and this chapter.
NATURAL REGENERATION
The natural establishment of trees and other vegetation with at least 400 woody, free-to-grow seedlings per acre, which are capable of reaching a height of at least 20 feet at maturity.
A. 
Except in agricultural and resource areas, the total area of a parcel, including both forested and nonforested areas, to the nearest one-tenth (1/10) acre, reduced by the area found to be within the critical area and the incorporated limits of any municipality.
B. 
In agricultural and resource areas, the part of the total tract for which land use will be changed or will no longer be used for primary agricultural activities reduced by the area to be found within the critical area and the incorporated limits of any municipality.
A. 
An area that is inundated or saturated by surface or groundwater at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and under normal conditions does support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions, commonly known as "hydrophytic vegetation."
B. 
The determination of whether an area is considered a nontidal wetland shall be made in accordance with the publication known as the "Federal Manual for Identifying and Delineating Jurisdictional Wetlands," published in 1989, and as may be amended and interpreted by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
C. 
"Nontidal wetlands" do not include tidal wetlands regulated under Title 9 of the Natural Resources Article, Annotated Code of Maryland.
OFF SITE
Outside the limits of the area encompassed by a parcel.
ON SITE
Within the limits of the area encompassed by a parcel.
PERENNIAL STREAM
A stream containing surface water throughout an average rainfall year, as shown on the most recent seven-and-five-tenths-minute topographical quadrangle published by the United States Geological Survey or as confirmed by field verification.
QUALIFIED PROFESSIONAL
A person who:
A. 
Is a licensed forester;
B. 
Is a licensed landscape architect; or
C. 
Meets the minimum requirements for qualified professionals as determined by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources for preparing forest stand delineations and forest conservation plans and is approved, in writing, by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources as a qualified professional.
A. 
Creation of a biological community dominated by trees and other woody plants containing at least 100 live trees per acre, with at least 50% of those trees having the potential of attaining a two-inch or greater diameter measured at 4.5 feet above the ground within seven years; or
B. 
Establishment of a forest according to procedures set forth in the Dorchester County Forest Conservation Technical Manual.
RETENTION
The deliberate holding and protecting of existing trees, shrubs or plants on the site, according to established standards.
SEEDLING
An unbranched woody plant, less than 24 inches in height and having a diameter of less than one-half-inch caliper measured at two inches above the root collar.
SELECTIVE CLEARING
The planned removal of trees, shrubs and plants using specific standards and protection measures under an approved forest conservation plan.
STEEP SLOPES
Slopes of 25% or greater incline.
STREAM BUFFER
All lands lying within 50 feet, measured from the top of each normal bank of a perennial or intermittent stream.
SUBDIVISION
The division of a single lot, tract or parcel of land or part thereof into two or more lots, tracts or parcels of land for the purpose, whether immediate or future, of transfer of ownership or of building development. "Subdivision," when appropriate to the context, shall relate to the process of subdividing or to the lands subdivided.
TIMBER HARVESTING
A tree cutting operation affecting one or more acres of forest or developed woodland within a one-year integral that disturbs 5,000 square feet or more of forest floor. "Timber harvesting" does not include grubbing and clearing or root mass.
TREE
A large, woody plant that reaches a height of at least 20 feet at maturity, having one or several self-supporting stems or trunks and numerous branches.
WATERSHED
All land lying within an area described as a subbasin in water quality regulations adopted by the Department of Environment under COMAR 26.08.02.08.
WHIP
An unbranched woody plant greater than 24 inches in height and having a diameter of less than one inch, measured at two inches above the root collar.

§ 96-4 Forest stand delineation.

A. 
The forest stand delineation, hereinafter referred to as "the delineation," shall be prepared by a qualified professional, as herein defined.
B. 
The delineation shall include, at a minimum, the following components:
(1) 
A topographic map delineating intermittent and perennial streams and steep slopes over 25%.
(2) 
A soils map delineating hydric soils or soils with a soil k value greater than thirty-five hundredths (0.35) on slopes of 15% or more.
(3) 
Forest stand maps indicating species, location and size of trees and showing dominant and codominant forest trees.
(4) 
A map indicating the extent and location of critical habitat areas and of trees, shrubs or plants determined to be rare, threatened or endangered.
(5) 
Information required by the Dorchester County Forest Conservation Technical Manual, incorporated herein by reference.
(6) 
Other information the Department determines is necessary to implement this chapter.
C. 
A simplified delineation may be submitted for an area when no forest cover is disturbed during construction activity. In lieu of Subsection B(3) above, the delineation may include a map showing existing forest cover, as verified by field survey.
D. 
For minor subdivisions only, the delineation may be submitted for the net tract area.
E. 
Approval of forest stand delineations.
(1) 
An approved delineation may remain in effect for a period not longer than five years.
(2) 
Within 30 calendar days after receipt of the forest stand delineation, the Department shall notify the applicant whether the forest stand delineation is complete and correct.
(3) 
If the Department fails to notify the applicant within 30 days, the delineation shall be treated as complete and correct.
(4) 
At the request of either the Department or the applicant, the deadline may be extended under extenuating circumstances.

§ 96-5 Forest conservation plan.

A. 
A forest conservation plan shall:
(1) 
Be prepared by a qualified professional.
(2) 
Be submitted with the application for subdivision or erosion and sediment control plan.
(3) 
Include the forest stand delineation for the site.
(4) 
Be disapproved unless the accompanying forest stand delineation is approved.
(5) 
Be submitted for the net tract area of the parcel, as defined herein.
B. 
A forest conservation plan shall include:
(1) 
A table that lists the proposed values of the following, to the nearest tenth of an acre:
(a) 
Net tract area.
(b) 
Area of forest conservation or afforestation required.
(c) 
Area of forest conservation or afforestation that the applicant proposed to provide, including both on-site and off-site area.
(2) 
A graphic indication of the forest conservation or afforestation provided on the site drawn to scale, showing areas where retention of existing forest or afforestation or reforestation is proposed.
(3) 
In the case of afforestation or reforestation, include a proposed afforestation or reforestation plan.
(4) 
A proposed construction time table showing the sequence of forest conservation procedures.
(5) 
The proposed limits of disturbance.
(6) 
Proposed stockpile areas.
(7) 
A proposed two-year maintenance agreement that shows how areas designated for afforestation or reforestation will be maintained to ensure protection and satisfactory establishment.
(8) 
Other information required in the Dorchester County Forest Conservation Technical Manual necessary to implement this chapter.
(9) 
A long-term binding protective agreement that:
(a) 
Provides protection for areas of forest conservation, including areas of afforestation, reforestation and retention.
(b) 
Limits uses in areas of forest conservation to those that are designated and consistent with forest conservation, including recreational activities and forest management practices that are used to preserve forest(s).
(10) 
The proposed location and types of protective devices to be used during construction activities to protect trees and forests designated for conservation.
(11) 
An explanation of how the proposed plan is consistent with the priorities for afforestation, reforestation and retention contained herein.
C. 
Review of forest conservation plan.
(1) 
Within 30 calendar days after receipt of the final forest conservation plan, the Department shall notify the applicant whether the forest conservation plan is complete and correct.
(2) 
If the Department fails to notify the applicant within 30 calendar days, the plan shall be treated as complete and correct.
(3) 
At the request of either the Department or the applicant, the deadline may be extended under extenuating circumstances.
D. 
Priorities for forest protection.
(1) 
Trees, shrubs and plants located in the intermittent and perennial streams and their buffers, steep slopes, nontidal wetlands and critical habitats.
(2) 
Contiguous forest that connects the largest undeveloped or most vegetated tracts of land within and adjacent to the site.
(3) 
Trees, shrubs or plants determined to be rare, threatened or endangered under:
(a) 
The Federal Endangered Species Act of 1973.
(b) 
The Maryland Nongame and Endangered Species Conservation Act.
(c) 
COMAR 08.03.08.
(4) 
Trees that:
(a) 
Are part of a historic site.
(b) 
Are associated with a historic structure.
(c) 
Have been designated by the state or the Department as a national, state or county champion tree.
(5) 
Any tree having a diameter measured at 4.5 feet above the ground of:
(a) 
Thirty inches or more; or
(b) 
Seventy-five percent or more of the diameter, measured at 4.5 feet above the ground, of the current state champion tree of that species as designated by the Department of Natural Resources.
E. 
Priorities and time requirements for afforestation and reforestation.
(1) 
The preferred sequence for afforestation and reforestation is as follows:
(a) 
Selective clearing and supplemental planting on site.
(b) 
On-site afforestation and reforestation, if economically feasible and under certain conditions as determined in the Dorchester County Forest Conservation Technical Manual, using transplanted or nursery stock that is greater than 1.5 inches in diameter measured at 4.5 feet above the ground.
(c) 
On-site afforestation or reforestation, using whip and seedling stock.
(d) 
Landscaping of areas under an approved landscaping plan which establishes a forest that is at least 35 feet wide and covering 2,500 square feet or more of area.
(e) 
Off-site afforestation or reforestation, if economically feasible and under certain conditions as determined in the Dorchester County Forest Conservation Technical Manual, using transplanted or nursery stock that is greater than 1.5 inches in diameter measured at 4.5 feet above the ground.
(f) 
Off-site afforestation or reforestation, using whip and seedling stock.
(g) 
Natural regeneration on site.
(h) 
Natural generation off site.
(2) 
A sequence other than the one described above may be used for a specific project, if necessary to achieve the objectives of the Dorchester County Comprehensive Plan or Land Use Policies or to take advantage of opportunities to consolidate forest conservation efforts, at the discretion of the Department.
(3) 
The following are considered a priority for afforestation and reforestation:
(a) 
Establish or enhance forest buffers adjacent to intermittent and perennial streams to widths of at least 50 feet.
(b) 
Establish or increase existing forested corridors to connect existing forests within or adjacent to the site, and, where practical, forested corridors should be a minimum of 300 feet in width to facilitate wildlife movement.
(c) 
Establish or enhance forest buffers adjacent to critical habitats, where appropriate.
(d) 
Establish buffers to stabilize slopes of 25% or greater and slopes of 15% or greater with a soil k value greater than 0.35, including the slopes of ravines or other natural depressions.
(e) 
Establish forest areas adjacent to existing forests to increase the overall area of contiguous forest cover, as deemed appropriate by the Department.
(f) 
Use native plant materials for afforestation or reforestation, unless deemed inappropriate by the Department.
(g) 
Establish forest areas on lands not considered to be prime agricultural lands, as determined by the Dorchester County Soil Conservation District.
(h) 
Buffering between differing land uses.
(i) 
Pay into a mitigation bank through the purchase of mitigation banks credits, if available.
[Added 9-24-2002 by Ord. No. 308]
(4) 
A person required to conduct afforestation or reforestation under this chapter shall accomplish it within six months of the recordation of the final plat or within one year of the issuance of the grading permit, whichever is applicable. The deadline for compliance with this subsection may be extended, subject to concurrence from the County Commissioners.

§ 96-6 Forest conservation maintenance and management agreements.

A. 
Short-term protective agreements.
(1) 
A person required to conduct afforestation or re-forestation shall include in the Forest Conservation Plan a binding maintenance agreement for the length of two years.
(2) 
The maintenance agreement shall detail how the areas designated for afforestation or reforestation will be maintained to ensure protection and satisfactory establishment of forest.
(3) 
The person required to conduct the afforestation or reforestation shall present evidence of a legal right to implement the proposed maintenance agreement on a selected site.
(4) 
The maintenance agreement shall not be released until or unless a long-term lease or conservation easement agreement is in place to protect the lands where afforestation or reforestation will occur.
(5) 
The maintenance agreement shall provide access by the Department to the afforestation or reforestation site.
(6) 
A person required by this chapter to conduct afforestation or reforestation shall furnish surety to the county in the form of a bond, an irrevocable letter of credit or other security approved by the Department. The surety shall:
(a) 
Assure that the afforestation, reforestation and associated management plan are conducted and maintained in accordance with the approved forest conservation plan;
(b) 
Be in the amount equal to the estimated cost, as determined by the Department;
(c) 
Be in a form and of a content approved by the County Attorney; and
(d) 
Be provided prior to plat recordation or approval of the grading permit.
(7) 
If, upon expiration of the short-term protective agreement, the planting associated with the afforestation or reforestation meets or exceeds the standards of the Dorchester County Forest Conservation Technical Manual, the remaining amount of the cash bond, letter of credit, surety bond or other surety shall be returned or released upon written request of the person required to provide said surety.
(8) 
The terms and conditions of the agreement shall be binding on the lot or parcel and may not be terminated upon transfer of title.
B. 
Long-term protective agreements.
(1) 
An applicant under this chapter shall have in effect at all times after project approval approved long-term protective measures to retain as forest all land afforested, reforested or retained under this chapter. This may include one or more of the following:
(a) 
Approved forest management plan, prepared by a licensed professional forester and approved by the Department of Natural Resources.
(b) 
Forest conservation and management agreement, as provided for in Tax-Property Article, § 8-211, Annotated Code of Maryland.
(c) 
Other legally binding protective agreements, including:
[1] 
Covenants running with the land.
[2] 
Deed restrictions.
[3] 
Conservation easements.
[4] 
Land trusts.
(d) 
Other legally binding agreements shall provide for the protection of all lands forested, afforested or reforested under this chapter and shall limit the uses of the forest to those that are consistent with forest conservation.
(2) 
A long-term protective agreement shall be binding for a minimum period of 15 years.
(3) 
The terms and conditions of the agreement shall be binding on the lot or parcel and may not be terminated upon transfer of title.

§ 96-7 Procedure for a timber harvesting plan.

A. 
An individual may harvest timber on forested, reforested or afforested areas protected under an approved forest conservation plan, provided that the harvest:
(1) 
Is consistent with the intent of an approved forest management plan, forest conservation management agreement or other long-term protective agreement.
(2) 
Is subject to a timber harvest plan:
(a) 
Prepared by a licensed professional forester.
(b) 
Submitted to the Dorchester Forest Conservancy District Board for review and approval.
(c) 
That remains in effect for two years.
(3) 
Is consistent with the intent and requirements of the approved Forest Conservation Plan.
B. 
The Dorchester Forest Conservancy District Board shall notify the Department or the individual whether the timber harvest plan has been approved.

§ 96-8 Mitigation banks.

[Amended 9-24-2002 by Ord. No. 308]
A. 
A County agency may establish a forested area in the amount of planned cutting or clearing on County-maintained rights-of-way. Such areas shall be subject to the provisions for short- and long-term protection.
B. 
Forest mitigation banking would be permitted on private land for the mutual benefit of landowners to purchase and sell mitigation bank credits to persons who would be required to meet forest conservation requirements.
(1) 
Sites must be 10 acres and include one of the following:
(a) 
Existing forestland of 10 acres or more.
(b) 
Establishment of riparian forest buffer planting along agricultural stream systems.
(c) 
Enhancement of riparian forested areas by planting adjacent to existing riparian areas.
(d) 
Establishment of planting on less productive agricultural soils.
(2) 
To create a forest mitigation bank:
(a) 
Landowner is required to develop a forest conservation plan with a licensed Maryland forester, licensed landscape architect, or Maryland DNR qualified environmental professional. Requirements of a forest conservation plan are listed under § 96-5.
(b) 
A two-year maintenance agreement is required (§ 96-6A), and a LTPA, long-term protection agreement (§ 96-6B). This LTPA should be notarized when submitted. Applicants can have the agreement notarized at the Dorchester County Office of Planning and Zoning.
(c) 
The forest conservation plan and LTPA will be filed by the County with the clerk of courts.
(d) 
A forest conservation plan will require the posting of a letter of credit from a financial institution for two years from plan approval.
(e) 
Landowners must obtain final approval of their forest conservation plan from the Dorchester County Office of Planning and Zoning Forest Conservation Program, prior to the selling of mitigation credits.
(f) 
Any agreement made for selling and/or purchasing mitigation credits is between individual parties, and is not between the Dorchester County Office of Planning and Zoning or its employees/agents.
(g) 
Lands under CREP, or similar programs, are not eligible for mitigation banking.