A Senate committee approved legislation yesterday that will give rural Eastern Shore counties a little more flexibility in coping with strict new regulations that will limit development in a 1,000-foot strip of land along the Chesapeake Bay shoreline.
The bills were approved after Eastern Shore leaders acknowledged that they did not have the votes to make any substantial changes in the development limits, which are intended to preserve a buffer strip around the bay to reduce the flow of pollutants into the water. The limits already have passed the House of Delegates.
"Obviously, we're not completely pleased," Del. Daniel Long (D-Somerset) told members of the Senate Economic and Environmental Affairs Committee.
But he said the changes that will be made by the bills "do give us more flexibility."
"We feel they will be of some benefit, especially on the lower Shore," he said.
Legislators from the Eastern Shore and southern Maryland had hoped earlier in the session to be able to block the regulations, which were drafted by the Chesapeake Bay Critical Areas Commission.
When they were unable to do that, they began pushing a series of bills that would have eased the impact of the regulations.
Most of those bills failed, including one that would have allowed one house to be built on each eight acres of waterfront property in undeveloped areas designated as "resource conservation areas." The regulations allow only one home for each 20 acres.