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Frequently Asked Questions

  • When is a grading permit required?
    If the proposed project fails to meet the limitations (1through 12) of the Standard Grading Plan. For example: Disturbance associated with the project will be more than 5,000 square feet.
  • How is the disturbed area calculated?
    Disturbance includes all areas where ground cover or vegetation is cut or removed. The disturbed area calculations must include all areas which will be disturbed, i.e., the driveway, well and septic systems, public utility connections. For determining the limits of disturbance for proposed structures, add a minimum of 20 feet to each length by width dimension. This will provide a ten foot working strip around the entire perimeter of those structures during construction.
  • What is Stormwater Management and water quality control?
    Stormwater Management is a system of non-structural vegetative as well as structural measures used to maintain pre-development peak discharge rates and to provide water quality benefits through the control of volume, timing or rate flow caused by man-made changes to the land.
  • When is a Public Works or Utility Agreement needed? What is required?
    When improvements are proposed to public infrastructures, such as roads, storm drains, water/sewer lines. Checklists are available for each on the online form page.
  • Who prepares a grading permit?
    A grading permit is prepared under the direction of a private design professional registered in the State of Maryland. Grading permits must address phasing of construction, erosion and sediment controls, stormwater management, reforestation, as well as permanent on-site improvements such as structure location(s), final grading and storm drainage, paving, provisions for water and sewerage and off-street parking.
  • How do I report a potential environmental violation or file a complaint?
    Call the Environmental Hotline at (410) 222-7777. It is answered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Please have the address and/or tax account number of the property handy. If there is no street address associated with that property, please have the address of an adjacent property. If at all possible, an inspection will be done the same day.
  • Does the Environmental Inspection section inspect the lot grading that my builder is doing to my lot?
    Yes, your builder should have obtained the proper permits to not only build your house, but to perform all of the lot grading. If you have concerns about the grading being done or your builder's grading, please call the Environmental Inspection Section at (410) 222-7780.
  • How do I obtain a Public Works Agreement to complete improvements in the County Right of Way?
    The Permit Center, Agreement Section can provide you with information necessary to obtain Public Works Agreements. Please contact them at (410) 222-7730.
  • The meter in front of my house is leaking or a contractor working in front of my house hit a water line; whom do I call?
    If you have problems of an urgent nature regarding water and/or sewer lines and possible leakage or flooding in the County right of way, you should call the Department of Public Works Emergency Services Dispatch at (410) 222-8400. This number is monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • The storm drain is apparently clogged; whom do I call?
    You should contact the Department of Public Works, Road Operations for maintenance. Road Operations District numbers are as follows: Northern District (410) 222-6120; Central District (410) 222-7940; Southern District (410) 222-1933; Customer Relations (410) 222-7582.
  • What is the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area?
    The Critical Area is 1,000 feet inland from tidal water or tidal wetlands. The Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Program promotes more sensitive development within the Critical Area to help protect water quality and wildlife habitat. Of particular importance are restrictions on construction and clearing within the 100-foot buffer along the shoreline.
  • What is a buffer in the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area?
    The 100’ buffer was established under State law to protect aquatic, wetland, shoreline, and terrestrial environments from man-made disturbances. The Chesapeake Bay Critical Area buffer is located 100 feet inland from the mean high water line of tidal water, tidal wetlands or tributary streams. The 100-foot buffer is expanded to include any contiguous sensitive areas, including all land within 50 feet of the top of a steep slope (15% and greater).
  • When is a buffer management plan required in the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area?
    Any disturbance or removal of vegetation within the 100-foot buffer or expanded buffer will require an approved buffer management plan or standard vegetation management plan. Disturbance includes cutting or removing vegetation and grading or filling activity.
  • Who prepares a buffer management plan or standard vegetation management plan?
    For removal of individual trees, construction of nonstructural water access paths, and small-scale tree pruning, the property owner can prepare and sign the standard form. In the case of paths and pruning, a drawing must also be prepared.

    For removal of a large number of trees, large scale pruning, and replacing vines and briars with desirable understory plants, the property owner will need a buffer management plan prepared by a landscape professional.
  • Can I remove invasive species (phragmites, English ivy, poison ivy, greenbriar) from my buffer?
    Yes. The County encourages the removal of invasive species. However, you must have a County-approved buffer management plan or standard vegetation management plan and the affected areas must be re-vegetated with native species that suppress the re-growth of the invasive species. Contact the Forestry Section at (410) 222-7441 for a list of native species plants or go to this link -

    Native Species Information
  • What does the County do with the fees it collects from property owners for the removal of trees in the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area?
    By law, the County must utilize those funds for forest conservation and forest establishment within the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area.