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OWNING A NEW WATERFRONT HOME IS TRULY A LUXURY.
BUILDING WITHIN 1,000 FEET OF THE WATER COMES WITH IT'S OWN COMPLEX RULES THAT ENSURE THE HEALTH OF THE CHESAPEAKE BAY.
When deciding to pursue a building permit for a project that is close to a body of water, we must keep two items in mind: impervious coverage and rainwater mitigation. These rules are set in place to minimize the work's impact on the ever improving Chesapeake watershed.
ANY PROPERTY WITHIN THE CRITICAL AREA MUST ADHERE
TO THE IMPERVIOUS COVERAGE AND MITIGATION CODES
The Critical Area encompasses all properties that are within 1,000 feet of any tidal or non-tidal body of water. The state of Maryland has determined that these are the lands that must have proper control of rainwater run-off in an effort to uphold the Chesapeake Bay Act and keep the water clean.
The best way to determine if your property is within the Critical Area is to visit your county's GIS websites (i.e. Anne Arundel, Calvert, and Talbot), search for your address, and click on the necessary overlays. If you are within the Critical Area, you are likely within one of two zones: LDA (Limited Development Area) or IDA (Intensely Developed Area). If you are within an LDA zone, we must abide by the lot coverage calculations shown below. If you're within an IDA zone then you are not limited by these lot coverage rules, but you must be able to mitigate any new lot coverage.
WE OFFER IN-HOUSE ARCHITECTS AND CONTRACTORS.
THERE IS NO NEED FOR A COMPETITIVE BIDDING PROCESS NOR COORDINATION BETWEEN DESIGNER AND BUILDER.
CIVIL OR STRUCTURAL ENGINEERS ARE SOMETIMES NEEDED OUTSIDE OF OUR CONTRACT.
IMPERVIOUS COVERAGE RULES SET A LIMIT TO THE
PERCENTAGE OF PROPERTY THAT RAIN CAN'T PASS THROUGH
Under 8,000 SF
8,001 - 21,780 SF
21,781 - 36,300 SF
Over 36,301 SF
ALLOWABLE LOT COVERAGE
25% of Parcel + 500 SF
31.25% of Parcel
5,445 SF Limit
15% of Parcel
An impervious area includes any improvement that has a roof as well as driveways, walkways, patios, gravel areas, and sheds. Two improvements that don't count towards your lot coverage are decks that are attached to the house and pergolas. At present, Maryland does not recognize pervious pavers as a viable way of reducing your lot coverage.
These guidelines can have a significant impact on the size of house that would be allowed on specific properties. If you're looking to buy property within the Critical Area, it's always best to ask for a site plan and have it analyzed against these impervious coverage rules.
Now that we have a limit to how much space we can cover, how does the State ensure that our rainwater run-off won't make it's way to the Bay?
STORMWATER MANAGEMENT IS DESIGNED
THROUGH EITHER A STANDARD GRADING PLAN
OR AN ENGINEERED GRADING PERMIT
Applications to build smaller additions (projects that amount to less than 50% of the existing square footage, less than 50% of the existing structure's tax value, and less than a 5,000 SF disturbed area) require a site plan, a planting plan, and a Standard Grading Plan. These items can be drawn by a surveyor and your designer.
Applications to build larger projects (new homes, larger additions, or projects with a disturbed area larger than 5,000 SF) require a grading permit that is drawn by a certified civil engineer. This plan may include mechanical means of mitigation (rain gardens, planter boxes, cisterns, etc.) in addition to the vegetative planting plan. Grading permits can cost up to $20,000 and take upwards of six months to gain approval from both Maryland and your county.
VEGETATIVE MITIGATION CONSISTS OF A MINIMUM NUMBER
OF NATIVE TREES AND SHRUBS THAT MUST BE PLANTED
Vegetative mitigation comes in the form of a planting a quantity of native trees and shrubs based on how much new lot coverage is being created. The calculations can be quite confusing, but he general rule consensus is what is listed below.
WHEN WITHIN 1,000' CRITICAL AREA:
1 Tree or 3 Shrubs per 100 SF
of New Lot Coverage
WHEN WITHIN 100' BUFFER, ADD:
BUFFER MANAGEMENT MITIGATION
2 Trees and 6 Shrubs per 300 SF
of New Lot Coverage
VARIANCE BUFFER MANAGEMENT MITIGATION
3 Trees and 9 Shrubs per 300 SF
of New Lot Coverage
If you're contemplating the purchase of a property that is near a body of water, be sure to review a site plan and learn how these mitigation codes could apply. Lot coverage can be very restrictive to house size while mitigation rules can cause costly landscaping charges or limit the size of a home in an IDA zone.
Feel free to send us a message or give us a call if you'd like to understand these codes further.
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