SRA Board Meeting Minutes

Board of Directors Meeting May 17, 2011

 

Meeting called to order at 7:00 p.m. by President Duane Wilding

Guest Speaker: Speaker – Bob Masters of Masters Landscape Design, on the topic of:

Sustainable Waterfront Integrated Management (SWIM):

If you can’t swim in it, waterfront real estate values plummet and the river is more of a reflecting pool.  The hydrology of the Chesapeake is compromised by designs that do not consider natural processes.  SWIM is a guild of environmental professionals providing integrated conservation, protection & restoration for clients in the Critical Area.

The vision of SWIM  is to heal the Chesapeake bay using sustainable designs that mimic natural systems.  Since the cost of remediation of waterfront and Critical Area properties is huge and public money is in short supply for these projects, the best hope for this work is the private sector, i.e. the homeowners.  There is now unprecedented energy for retrofits, but progress is hampered by a lack of organization.  The major obstacles to this work are the permitting process and a lack of appropriate education requirements for waterfront contractors.

There are no simple standards or prototypes for sustainable management techniques – each project must be individually designed to suit the unique characteristics of the site and area.  Relatively few contractors and regulators have the experience and education needed to create these individual designs, so the design and permitting process can take many months.  This delay can frustrate homeowners who see their property eroding while the review process drags on.  Since there is a huge backlog of retrofits of stormwater management needed to meet the TMDL requirements by 2025, there is a need for a large number of qualified contractors and permit review personnel. 

To meet this need,  a program referred to as CPR is proposed.  There will be a CPR Manual that addresses Conservation, Protection, and Remediation.  It will give guidelines for the design of Living Shorelines, Living retaining walls, cisterns, and appropriate planting of native species, and habitat restoration in the critical areas.  Steep slopes must be carefully managed, as stormwater runoff can cause erosion, destablization of banks,  and damage to seedlings and other vegetation if not properly protected.

Conservation includes Stormwater management, Rainwater Harvesting, Blackwater (sewage) separation and Graywater (non-sewage drains) filtration.  Rainwater harvesting is especially challenging on steep slopes.  Consideration given to planting on top of septic system drainfields to promote  nitrogen update and fixation.  Replace Invasive species  with natives.

Protection includes Structural, Non-structural (vegetation) and hybrid systems combining both.


Restoration includes soil stabilization, preferably by planting.   The SWIM team recently did an inventory of recent restoration planting projects, and found that fewer than 40% of the plantings are thriving after 5 years.  Better planning is needed to put the right plants in the right place with proper soil preparation.

Unfortunately, the permitting process is so slow it encourages (or forces) people to act first and seek forgiveness later.  To mitigate this problem, the SWIM team recommends pre-permitting integrated CPR contractors, i.e. projects designed and executed by a pre-permitted contractor would be approved quickly with minimal oversight.   To make this concept work, the pre-permitted contractors must be better educated and certified.  The present test for a Marine Contractor license is not sufficient, and requires only minimal training.   Regulators, Designers & Builders must all be on the same page and think about integrated solutions, not just pieces.

The SWIM team is working with DNR to develop a process for certifying contractors as CPR qualified.  The process would include a 4-week course and testing for certification.  The curriculum now being developed is centered on the use of Strategic Environmental Innovation Centers (SEICs).  These demonstration projects would showcase innovative prototypes.  Course work would cover proper care and pruning of trees as well as Living Shorelines and Living Retaining Walls:

Wk 1 - Conservation

Wk 2 – Protection

Wk 3 Restoration

Wk 4 – Case study, Problem solving

Contractors and designers would have a powerful incentive to take and pass the course because they would then be CPR certified, and projects by CPR certified contractors would get swift approval with minimal oversight.  This process would also speed implementation of remediation projects, helping the state meet its TDML goals and help property owners in the critical area best manage their properties.

Much of the course would use an SEIC as examples of good and best practices.  AACo has an excellent pilot project at South River Farm which could be designated as an SEIC.

Several pictures were shown of recent projects which are examples of best management practices.

Several questions were asked and answered after the formal presentation.  One was whether certification would apply to companies or individuals, as there has been much consolidation of contractors into only a few large firms in recent years.  The answer was that the CPR certification would only be applied to individual designers within a firm who had completed the certification requirements.  Those individuals would be responsible for proper implementation of their designs.  The certification would not apply to the entire firm.

More information can be found at Sustainablewaterfront.com.

Business Meeting:

Ratification of Executive Committee

Proposed members: Don Morris-Jones, John Wright, Ken Hatch, Kurt Riegel, Lisa Bender, and Stephen Barry.  Election moved by Bob vom Saal, seconded by Bob Whitcomb, passed unanimously.  The Executive Committee and Officers will meet at 6:00 PM on the Tuesday of the week preceding the SRA Meeting.  Location to be announced.

Treasurer’s ReportLynne Rockenbauch / Bob vom Saal.  Books have been transferred to Lynne.  2010 books have been closed and an extension has been filed for the IRS Form 990 which was due 5/15.  2010 expenses exceeded income by $6,570.27, but this included an expense of $10,180 to reimburse Olde Severna Park Improvement Association for legal expenses relating to the Sullivan’s Cove lawsuit.  Since this money had been committed in previous years but never actually disbursed, and was covered by prior-year donations dedicated for that purpose, the ordinary expenses for 2010 were $3,610 less than our income.  SRA’s net worth at the end of 2010 was $71,118.69, up from $64,126.46 in December 2010.  Detailed reports will be made available soon, preferably by posting on the SRA website.

Old Business

100th Anniversary: Recognition Awards (SRA mugs) were presented to Bob Whitcomb, Betsy Love, Charlotte Lubbert, Howard Ernst, Thistle Cone, Lynne Rockenbauch.  These were paid for by Duane, but Bob vom Saal suggested that he be reimbursed by SRA from the Awards budget.  To be further discussed.

Community News: Severn Heights – Phragmites Eradication project seems successful – new vegetation appears to be thriving – Anyone interested is welcome to come look – contact Dick Spencer at spencri1@verizon.net  Spencr210@Verizon.net or 410-315-8117

New Business:

SRA Committees: the following committees were appointed:

Audit Committee, Chair – Bob Whitcomb

Land Use Committee – Dinny White (Chair) + Don Morris-Jones, Duane Wilding, Bob Whitcomb, Ken Hatch and Richard Falk

Stormwater Action Grants – Betsy Love (would like to resign – new chair needed)

Oyster Growers – Bob Whitcomb

Others: Chair and membership of the remaining committees will be announced at a later date, with recruitment of Directors to serve on the above listed committees and others to be announced.

Zoning Request Changes (Dinny White):

Comprehensive Rezoning for District 6 now under review.  SRA Committee is now whittling down the list of zoning change requests to those posing serious environmental concerns.  Council hearings are 6/20 through 8/1, every other week.  Met with Chris Trumbauer, will feed him questions for planners.  Committee will meet next week or 2 to organize approach & prepare recommendations to SRA Board [Executive Committee since Board doesn’t meet until 6/21] for presentation to CT before 6/13.  Next up is District 5, Broadneck: 8/8 work session, hearings start 9/6 and are every other week until 10/17.

Priest Point – Scott Peterson (the developer) is here tonight, walked 8 or 9 of us thru the property & discussed his proposal.  Meeting was generally positive.  Scott presented his proposal tonight.  Property is at the end of Riverview Rd, 15 acres, 12.3 OS, 2.7 R2.  Want to change all to RA with limit on impervious surface and disturbance area  to 0.5 acre each.  1 house + pier instead of 2-4 houses upland.  Will put in deed restrictions with Conservation Easement.  Need to formalize document to legally bind prior to Council vote.  Chris Trumbauer said no possibility of County acquiring the land for public use, other acquisition for Open Space also appears impossible.  Best bet is to recommend best use of land in private hands.  Committee is still studying alternatives, but present thinking is that Scott’s proposal appears to be a net improvement environmentally.

Oyster Committee – Bob Whitcomb – 2nd planting 6/4 at SRA sanctuary.  Will meet w/ Chris Judy of
DNR next week to determine exact planting site.  Unable to get funding for a monitoring project by U of MD, so have enlisted a volunteer (Valeria Culotta to lead midshipmen divers to sample the oysters on the reef. 350 oyster growers this year.  Poaching article was very speculative – there is remote monitoring by radar & satellite.  Poaching is not that bad, and negligible in Severn.- oysterboats would stand out and be reported.  Horn Point has some data.

Steve Barry – Yellow Perch larvae are not surviving – population is declining.  Sampled by Steve & Pierre Henkart.  It is suspected that septic runoff is decimating them.

Walter Jacobs – Has anyone looked at floating windmills to pump air into the water?  Duane Wilding – have been used in some lakes.  Air pumps being used to aerate some piers – seems to help – crab population higher in aerated areas.  Circulation pumps don’t help much.  Steve Barry – more freshwater this year – salinity half of this time last year.  No underwater grass from narrows up.  Good beds in Sherwood, some other areas but isolated.  Duane will check into aerator being used in Talbot County to create fish and crab sanctuaries during periods of low dissolved oxygen.

New initiatives – EC is exploring Dirty Dozen Critical Areas violators or Heroes & Zeroes highlighting good management practices, and a follow up on present state of Gems of the Severn.

Adjourned 8:45pm.

Next Meeting:  June 21 – Speaker – To be announced

(Revised June 2011)