Recent Rain Leads Wicomico To Lift Burn Ban

SALISBURY – The Wicomico County Council “kicked to the curb” a couple of unscheduled agenda items this week, the county wide burn ban and Plan Maryland.

On Tuesday, the county council lifted the burn ban at the request of County Executive Rick Pollitt. The burn ban has been in effect since June 9.

As the council was finishing up the list of things to do, a letter from Pollitt was delivered to the chambers requesting for the ban to be lifted following the recommendation by his Burn Ban Committee, which includes a representative of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the Wicomico Departments of Health, Emergency Services, Planning and Zoning, volunteer fire services and a local meteorologist.

The recent amount of rain has lessened the threat of uncontrolled fires. The county agreed to lift the burn ban even though it was pointed out that the western areas of the county have not seen significant rain fall.

“Even though the burn ban has been lifted, I intend to order continuous and thorough monitoring of conditions on the country’s west side,” Pollitt said. “Citizens should carefully monitor all fires and never leave a fire unsupervised. Also, all fires should be completely extinguished after use.”

In June, the burn ban went into effect because of extreme drought and heat conditions. The ban was initially set for a period of seven days but was extended until it was lifted this week. Under the ban, all outdoor burning became prohibited and violators would have been hit with a $500 fine.

Another unscheduled item, Plan Maryland, was discussed by the council, as members unanimously agreed to prohibit the plan from hitting the county’s streets.

Council Administrator Matthew Creamer explained to the council that by Monday emails were streaming in from other elected officials around the State of Maryland who have a great deal of concern over the plan.

According to Plan Maryland, the proposal will emphasize planning that encourages being more efficient and less wasteful of valuable resources.

It will require that the acknowledgement of limits to growth and development be more mindful of costs and benefits and assist  in making the necessary trade-offs to balance between growth, development and the protection of valuable natural, cultural and historic resources.

Creamer said that county officials from across the state have encouraged the Wicomico County Council to pass a resolution to encourage the State of Maryland to defer the implementation of Plan Maryland because it would significantly erode the local authorities of municipal and county officials over their control of land use decisions, land development and zoning.

Council Vice President Joe Holloway explained that Plan Maryland was originally drafted in the 1970s but was shelved and now has been recently resurrected.

According to Plan Maryland, in the 1970’s the state legislature created the authority to develop a statewide development plan and now it has reached a critical point because the pace of sprawl has continued its march despite curative efforts in recent decades.

“I am very much in favor of the resolution and to keep our own zoning rules and regulations within Wicomico County,” Councilman Bob Culver said. “Kick it to the curb.”