Dedicated Lawyers in Maryland
Rich & Henderson
Below are some of our news and seminars from 2009. For additional information or to schedule a consultation with an attorney at our Annapolis office, contact us online or call toll free 1-800-407-0250.
- November 2009 – MDE to Hold Public Workshop on Proposed Controlled Hazardous Substance Notification Regulations
- June 2009 – 2 – President Obama Signs Executive Order Regarding Chesapeake Bay Protection and Restoration
- June 2009 – 1 – New Environmental Standing Law in Maryland
- May 2009 – Attorneys Persuade Court to Strike Down Application of Provisions of the Critical Area Act
- February 2009 – Federal Government Releases $23 Million for Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative
- January 2009 – 2 – Firm Attorneys to Present at National Conference Highlighting Current Opportunities in Mergers & Acquisitions
- January 2009 – 1 – Firm’s Tim Henderson Presents Seminar at National Real Estate Law Conference
MDE to Hold Public Workshop on Proposed Controlled Hazardous Substance Notification Regulations
The Maryland Department of the Environment has announced that it will hold a public workshop on November 10, 2009 at 10:00 a.m. at MDE’s headquarters located at 1800 Washington Boulevard, Baltimore. MDE intends to discuss the proposed controlled hazardous substance notification regulations published in the Maryland Register on October 23, 2009. These regulations, required by a state law passed in the spring of 2008, would require certain landowners and others to inform the MDE of the known presence of controlled hazardous substances above certain threshold levels on properties throughout Maryland. The proposed regulations were published in the Maryland Register on October 23, 2009. Additional information on the proposed regulations is available on the MDE website.
The MDE is accepting public comment on the proposed regulations through November 23, 2009. MDE will then publish final regulations in the coming months, but the requirements for reporting the presence of these controlled hazardous substances will be retroactive.
This upcoming workshop is not a formal public hearing on the proposed regulations, but rather an informational meeting where the agency is apparently seeking to educate the regulated community. Rich & Henderson will be represented at the workshop. Please don’t hesitate to contact Tim Henderson at 410-267-5900 or e-mail about how these regulations may impact you and your business.
President Obama Signs Executive Order Regarding Chesapeake Bay Protection and Restoration
On May 12, 2009, President Barack Obama issued an executive order intended to help protect and restore the health, heritage, natural resources and social and economic value of the Chesapeake Bay. The executive order states that despite significant efforts by federal, state and local governments and other interested parties, water pollution in the Chesapeake Bay prevents the attainment of existing state water quality standards and the “fishable and swimmable” goals of the Clean Water Act.
The order, titled ‘Chesapeake Bay Protection and Restoration,’ establishes a Federal Leadership Committee to oversee the development and coordination of programs and activities of agencies participating in the protection and restoration of the Chesapeake Bay. The committee will be chaired by the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and will include senior representatives from the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, the Interior, Transportation and such other agencies as determined by the committee. The order grants the EPA enforcement authority if states miss established goals signaling a far greater federal role in the bay cleanup.
The committee is to consult extensively with Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York, Delaware and the District of Columbia. The goal of this consultation is to ensure that federal actions to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay are closely coordinated with actions by state and local agencies in the watershed and that the resources, authorities, and expertise of federal, state and local agencies are used as efficiently as possible for the benefit of the Chesapeake Bay’s water quality and ecosystem and habitat health and viability.
The order is intended to remedy past policy decisions at the state and local levels that allowed goals to be met too far in the future, permitting elected officials to make commitments that would come due long after they left office. Through the order, the EPA will mandate more stringent cleanup goals than politically sensitive state officials could publicly embrace.
By November 12, 2009, the agencies within the committee must submit reports on the key challenges to protecting and restoring the Chesapeake Bay. These reports will include recommendations for accomplishing such tasks as: targeting resources to better protect the Chesapeake Bay, strengthening stormwater management practices within the Chesapeake Bay watershed and developing stormwater best practices guidance, assessing the impacts of a changing climate on the Chesapeake Bay, expanding public access to waters and open spaces, developing focused and coordinated habitat and research activities that protect and restore the living resources and water quality of the Chesapeake Bay.
Beginning in 2010, the Federal Leadership Committee will review the agency reports and publish the first annual Chesapeake Bay Action Plan describing how federal funding proposed in the President’s Budget will be used to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay during the upcoming fiscal year.
The order could lead to new requirements for upgrading sewage treatment plants and other utilities and limits on developers, farmers and homeowners who fertilize their fields and lawns with nutrients that seep into the bay.
Exactly how this order and the actions it requires impact the environment, state and local governments, individuals and businesses in the Bay’s watershed has yet to be seen. Rich & Henderson will continue to monitor the issue and will report on any new developments.
For more information, please contact us.
New Environmental Standing Law in Maryland
On May 19, 2009, Governor Martin O’Malley signed legislation amending the Maryland Code, which dramatically alters the review of Maryland decisions to issue, deny, renew or revise certain environmental permits.
The new legislation does away with the contested case hearings process that has been in place since 1993. Instead, the law now allows individual parties or associations to request judicial review of decisions at the Circuit Court level. The review is limited to an administrative record and objections raised during the public comment period, with limited exceptions.
Prior to the amendment, the opportunity to request review of certain permit decisions was limited to applicants and participants in public hearings with real property interests directly affected by the permit. Beginning January 2010, House Bill 1569 and Senate Bill 1065, which amend section1-601 et seq. of the Environmental Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland, modify the process by greatly expanding who can challenge decisions made by the Maryland Department of the Environment and transferring those challenges to review at the Circuit Court level. The new law, in effect, adopts the more lenient federal rule of standing which in addition to the applicant, allows citizens and other interested parties, including nonprofit associations, to request judicial review of permitting decisions.
The expanded standing requirement allows any party that, “participated in a public participation process through the submission of written or oral comments” to request a judicial review of the decision as long as the party can show he or she is aggrieved by the decision, that the decision is inconsistent with the law, or that material facts exist that are contrary to the decision.
For a proceeding involving a variance for a development activity in the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Critical Area buffer, a person who meets federal standing requirements may participate as a party in a local administrative proceeding involving the variance. A person who meets this requirement may also (1) participate as a party in an administrative proceeding at a board of appeals even if the person was not a party to the original administrative proceeding; and (2) petition for judicial review and participate as a party even if the person was not a party to the action that is the subject of the petition. These provisions only apply to a variance application filed with a local Critical Area program on or after the bill’s January 1, 2010 effective date.
Parties seeking to challenge an MDE permitting decision also have an extended period in which to request a judicial review of the decision under the new law. Formerly, parties had 15 days from the date of the publication of the notice of final determination to request a contested case hearing, that period has been extended to 30 days.
For more information, please contact Tim Henderson.
Attorneys Persuade Court to Strike Down Application of Provisions of the Critical Area Act
On May 26, 2009, attorneys with Rich & Henderson and the Law Office of Robert Fuoco, jointly and successfully argued that provisions of the Critical Area Act amended in 2008 could not be applied retroactively. As a result, the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County dismissed an action filed against the owner of a two-acre island located in the Magothy River known as Little Island.
The case had its genesis when the owner of the island developed the island around 2001 without obtaining the necessary Critical Area permits or variances. Subsequently, in 2004, the owner filed requests for specific variances to the Critical Area Program, in effect “after-the-fact” variances. Those variances for the development of the island were granted by the Anne Arundel County Board of Appeals in 2007.
In 2008, the Maryland Legislature imposed new requirements on applicants for “after-the-fact” Critical Area variances, now set out in title 8, subtitle 18 of the Natural Resources Article. The 2008 act prohibited a county board of appeals from issuing any such Critical Area variances unless certain conditions precedent were satisfied, including the local government taking enforcement action and the applicant for the variance preparing and implementing a restoration or mitigation plan.
The issue before the court in this case was whether the 2008 act could be applied retroactively, in a court proceeding brought by the Critical Area Commission, to the after-the-fact variances granted in 2007; that is, whether the new conditions precedent, including enforcement action and a restoration plan, could be required in this particular case.
The court agreed with our attorneys representing the property owner and arguing that the law could not be applied retroactively. The court concluded that the 2008 legislative changes affected only the procedure used to enforce rights to an after-the-fact variance and not substantive rights to those variances. As a result the court held that the 2008 statute, which took effect on July 1st of that year, could not be applied retroactively to after-the-fact variances granted before the effective date of the act. Our attorneys also raised various constitutional arguments against retroactive enforcement, which the court did not need to address in light of its statutory interpretation of the 2008 legislation. While the act may be applied prospectively, property owners and local county boards of appeal should be aware of the fact that the 2008 amendments regarding after-the-fact variances should not be applied retroactively.
Jeffrey W. Moore Join Rich & Henderson
Rich & Henderson is pleased to announce that Tony holds both a J.D. and Master of Environmental Law, cum laude, from Vermont Law School. Prior to joining Rich & Henderson, he represented the Maryland Department of the Environment’s solid waste, oil control, water pollution and hazardous waste programs as an Assistant Attorney General from 1991 to 1997. He has spent nearly two decades providing advice and counsel to private parties and local governments on environmental, natural resources, land use and administrative law issues including compliance, Critical Area and wetlands regulation, hazardous and solid waste management, brownfields and the Maryland Voluntary Cleanup Program, environmental permitting and related litigation and general land use law including planning, annexation, rezoning, and water and sewer capacity allocation. He is admitted to practice law in Maryland and before the U. S. District Court for the District of Maryland and the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. He is a member of the Maryland State Bar Association, Anne Arundel County Bar Association and Queen Anne’s County Bar Association.
In addition, the firm is pleased to announce that Jeff Moore, an experienced engineer, environmental consultant and businessman has joined the firm as an Associate. Jeff practices in the areas of business, real estate, land use, environmental, energy and administrative law and brings almost 25 years of business experience to the firm. He has owned and operated businesses, designed and implemented solutions to legal and technical problems throughout the United States, negotiated on behalf of clients and supported his clients in litigation in state and federal courts. Jeff is a licensed professional engineer and geologist and a recognized author of both legal and technical articles in the topics of energy and environmental law and environmental remediation. Jeff received a B.A. in Environmental Sciences from the University of Virginia in 1982, a B.S. in Geology from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 1984, an M.S. in Environmental Engineering from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 1989 and a J.D. from The George Washington University Law School in 2008. He is admitted to practice law in Maryland.
Federal Government Releases $23 Million for Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative
Just days before the Bush administration left office, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released $23 million under the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative to help farmers in the watershed take action to control erosion and nutrient runoff. The allocation is one of the largest single federal investments in the Chesapeake Bay cleanup effort and an unprecedented targeting of farm bill resources to a specific watershed.
The funds are the first of a four-year, $188 million commitment made in the 2008 farm bill to support agricultural conservation practices such as nutrient management, cover crops, crop residue management and vegetative buffers. These practices are aimed at improving water quality, preserving and enhancing natural resources, and reducing the amount of pollutants flowing into the streams, creeks and rivers that feed Chesapeake Bay.
Under the new voluntary initiative, eligible private farmland owners will receive technical and financial assistance to address wetland, wildlife habitat, soil, water and related concerns. Also, landowners will be assisted with planning, designing, implementing and evaluating habitat conservation and restoration.
The Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative is to receive $43 million in 2010, $72 million in 2011 and $50 million in 2012. The funds are to be allocated by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to the six states in the Bay watershed based on 11 key criteria, including the amount of farms, pasture land and livestock in each state. The specific amounts to be distributed to each state are:
New York: $1,403,356
West Virginia: $1,451,165
Firm Attorneys to Present at National Conference Highlighting Current Opportunities in Mergers & Acquisitions
Tim Henderson and Jeff Moore will present a seminar entitled, “New Developments in Environmental Due Diligence” at the Mid-Market March Madness Conference on March 18th in Atlanta, Georgia. This conference, now in its 9th year, aims to provide up-to-date information to middle-market executives, lenders and advisors interested in educating themselves about the current environment for mergers and acquisitions, buyouts and turnaround opportunities. The agenda for the conference may be found here.
Firm’s Tim Henderson Presents Seminar at National Real Estate Law Conference
Managing Partner Tim Henderson presented a seminar entitled “Institutional Controls, Deed Restrictions, Restrictive Covenants and the Uniform Environmental Covenants Act” at the National CLE Conference for Real Estate Law in Vail, Colorado. For more information regarding the subject, please contact Tim at 410-267-5900 or [email protected].