It all started back in early 2009 when Ken Ulman tried to shift development plan reviews from the independent HoCo Soil Conservation District, a state agency, to the county. This was seen as a cost saving move since the county already reviews these plans and the county funds the Soil Conservation District. Many in the development business see the Soil Conservation District reviews as unnecessarily redundant.
Predictably a turf war erupted. The HoCo Soil Conservation District is its own little fiefdom and it didn’t take kindly to Ken’s budget cutting move. They reacted by first shutting down development plan reviews and then by increasing their fees from $80.00 per acre to $290.00 per acre. The timing of this increase couldn’t have been worse for the developers already reeling from the economic recession.
The little HoCo Soil Conservation District has bipartisan support too. In another example that politics makes for strange bedfellows, their cause is backed by both Senator Alan Kittleman and Delegate Liz Bobo.
A compromise may finally be in the works. According to the most recent issue of the Howard/Arundel Report, the development community and the district have agreed to “try and hammer out a memorandum of understanding to finally put the cost of SCD’s grading and sediment control reviews at a place both can agree.”