mulch and composting

Hearings continue on changes to zoning regulations associated with mulch and composting rules. While this issue affects properties across the County, it is particularly relevant to the western and southern regions of our District 5 due to the concentration of farms and other large properties.

In 2013, the Ulman Administration and County Council expanded mulching and composting rights.  In 2014, those changes were rolled back due to community concerns, at which time the Council and Administration created a task force that included representatives from farming, three preservation groups, several County departments and other stakeholders.  Legislation followed in summer 2017, along with several public hearings and an eventual vote to approve numerous amendments and a final bill.  Here’s the Task Force and its Report:  https://cc.howardcountymd.gov/Mulching-Composting-Wood-Processing-Task-Force

Throughout the process, legislators, County officials and stakeholders have been trying to create restrictions that balance the soil conservation policies and economic needs of farmers with the concerns of adjacent communities.  Due to a procedural error, the legislation is back to the Planning Board and more hearings are being held.

This has become a very emotional and contentious issue.  Farmers need large amounts of fiber (wood product) to meet soil conservation expectations and on-site composting to satisfy current best practices for dispossal of animals and vegetation.  Adjacent homeowners fear groundwater contamination, unhealthy dust in the air, noise, odors, traffic and other nuisances.  And almost everyomne wants to prevent manufacturing operations from relcating to farmland because the land is cheaper than more appropriate sites in eastern parts of the County.  Due to the emotions surrounding the issue, a tremendous amount of misinformation has been circulating through the community so I highly recommend anyone who is interested to get involved, attend hearings and seek information from a variety of sources.