The Maryland House of Delegates overwhelmingly adopted a resolution today to limit development around the Chesapeake Bay in spite of sustained opposition by lawmakers from the Eastern Shore who argued that the conservation efforts will hamper growth there.
The House's 102-to-19 vote, which applies to land within 1,000 feet of the bay shoreline, echoes a similar show of support from the Senate, which approved its version of the same resolution 42 to 4 at the end of last month. The resolution takes effect once each house approves the other house's version.
Eastern Shore legislators are trying to pass other bills that would weaken the effect of the bay resolution, and those bills are expected to be taken up in a House committee Thursday.
But House Speaker Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Baltimore) said today it was doubtful that that legislation would substantially change the new regulations set out in the resolution.
Cardin and Environmental Matters Committee Chairman Larry Young (D-Baltimore) met until midnight Tuesday with Eastern Shore legislators in an attempt to come up with a compromise.
Young said that the House leadership, which supports the new regulations as they now stand, made "major" concessions to the Eastern Shore representatives.
But Del. Ronald A. Guns (D-Elkton) called any concessions made by the House leadership "minute."
And Cardin said that he is unwilling to support the centerpiece of the Eastern Shore legislative effort, a bill that would allow denser development in undeveloped "resource conservation areas." That measure would allow builders to construct one dwelling on every eight acres of land instead of one dwelling on every 20 acres, as the House resolution stipulates.
"I am now seeing the shore delegates scratching for every piece they can get," said Young. "But I think the momentum is definitely in our favor."
Guns and his colleagues rose in succession on the House floor today to assail what they said will be the negative side effects of the new restrictions.
"This will affect the political viability of the subdivision I represent," said Del. Daniel Long, (D-Somerset). "What that means is my county, which needs development, is not going to be able to do it. In order to pay our teachers and pave our roads, we have to expand on our tax base."
Del. Robert G. Kramer (D-Anne Arundel) responded that the guidelines, drawn up by a governor's task force called the Critical Areas Commission, "are reasonable and allow for future growth, but growth that has to be directed."
Legislators here have been under intense pressure from Eastern Shore developers and county planners. The developers' plight gained sympathy from several nonshore delegates who spoke during debate on the floor today.
Del. John Gary (R-Anne Arundel) complained that the House was being asked to vote on the overall legislation without first being given the chance to consider other proposals.
"Most of us realize that what the Eastern Shore is saying is legitimate," said Gary, who voted against the measure.
"You're taking away from the Eastern Shore the most valuable asset they have, and that's their waterfront," he added.
But for the most part, conservationists hovering in the hallways at the State House seemed jubilant, and the Eastern Shore delegates seemed tired.
"Everybody knows we're running out of time," said Guns.
Prince George's delegates voting to approve new Chesapeake Bay "critical areas" guidelines:
Timothy Maloney (D), Pauline Menes (D), Thomas Mooney (R), David Bird (D), Richard Palumbo (D), Gerald Devlin (D), Joan Pitkin (D), Charles Ryan (D), Nathaniel Exum (D), Francis Santangelo (D), Jerry Perry (D), Albert Wynn (D), Christine Jones (D), Marian Patterson (D), Frederick Rummage (D), William McCaffrey (D), Gary Alexander (D), William Bevan (D), Susan Buswell (D).
Montgomery delegates voting for the bill:
Judith Toth (D), Marilyn Goldwater (D), Nancy Kopp (D), Mary Boergers (D), Jennie Forehand (D), Michael Gordon (D), Helen Koss (D), Donald Robertson (D), Idamae Garrott (D), Lucille Maurer (D), Sheila Hixson (D), Diane Kirchenbauer (D), Edward Kasemeyer (D), Robert Kittleman (R).
Prince George's delegates voting against the bill:
Dennis Donaldson (D) and Joseph Vallario (D).
Montgomery delegates voting against the bill:
Patricia Sher (D) and Joseph Owens (D).
Not voting from Prince George's:
Frank Pesci (D) and Sylvania Woods (D).
Not voting from Montgomery:
Joel Chasnoff (D), Gene Counihan (D), Jerry Hyatt (D), Constance Morella (R), Ida Ruben (D).