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Severn River

Severn River Commission

The Severn River Commission provides counsel and advice to Anne Arundel County, the City of Annapolis and The State of Maryland, concerning matters related to the Severn River and its watershed.

 
 
  • Current Commissioners

    Charlie Kreter, Chair
    Sara Phillips, Vice Chair
    Lex Birney
    Jim Burdick, City of Annapolis Representative
    Scott Hymes (Ex Officio member)
    Bill Kardash
    Kurt Riegel, City of Annapolis Representative
    Dan Roche
    Bob Whitcomb
    Dick Spencer

  • ByLaws
    The Bylaws are amended from May 14, 1985 as Revised and Adopted July 7, 2005

    Resolutions Creating the Severn River Commission
    County Council Resolution R130-84 Creating the Severn River Commission
    Annapolis City Council Resolution R55-84 Creating the Severn River Commission
    County Council Resolution R47-87 Reestablishing the Severn River Commission
    Annapolis City Council Resolution R50-89
  • Severn River Commission vs Severn River Association
    The Severn River Commission (SRC) and the Severn River Association exist to protect the Severn River watershed.
    However, very often one is confused with the other despite each having very different roles to fulfill. This is an attempt to help the public differentiate between the two and to explain what the SRC does.

    The Severn River Association is a dues paying, non-profit activist organization. On the other hand, the Severn River Commission is a quasi-government entity with a specific charge.

    The Severn River Commission was created by County Council Resolution 130-84 and City of Annapolis Resolution 55-84 as a result of a decision by the State General Assembly to designate the Severn River and its tributaries as a State Scenic River – one of nine rivers chosen for such designation in Maryland. The Scenic Rivers Act of 1978 instructed the local governing bodies to establish boards to advise on how to protect and enhance each river’s natural, scenic and cultural heritage. Thus the Severn River commission was created. The County and City resolutions charged the SRC to provide counsel and advise on policies, laws, rules, and regulations which the SRC believes may have an impact on the Severn River watershed.

    The commission consists of seven county and two city voting members and three ex-officio non-voting members. The nine voting members must be confirmed by either County or City Councils and all are bound by ethics laws. The members serve without compensation. All meetings are public, are advertised as required by law and minutes are maintained as public documents. A biennial report of its activities is required.

    Its official advisory role and official nature set Severn River Commission apart from the Severn River Association and other Severn River groups.

    There have been attempts in the past to lure the Commission into an activist role but with small success. From time to time individual Commission members do take on special projects they are interested in and report back to the Commission, but overall policy issues dominate the agenda. For example, protection of the Jabez Branch has been a priority since the SRC was created. Last year former County Executive Janet Owens instructed the SRC to investigate establishing an environmental overlay protection zone for the Jabez Branch watershed. The SRC is pursuing that charge and will make recommendations.

    In its role as an advisory body, the SRC has been involved in legislative and regulatory procedures concerning critical and decisive issues affecting the well-being of the entire watershed. Of particular concern is the projected deforestation of the watershed. Currently, 33% of the Severn River Watershed is forested, however, the projected forest cover could be reduced to 6% with current zoning if total build out occurs. The implications of such loss of forest cover are staggering and will be reviewed by the SRC in the context of the General Development Plan.

    It is in areas such as those mentioned above that the Severn River Commission is mostly effective and builds a credible reputation as a true advisory body. To further its effectiveness, the Commission is discussing ways to create a framework for interaction between the Commission and the many watershed organizations with environmental interests. A unity of purpose among the groups would generate more focused attention on producing positive results. Everyone would benefit.

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