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Environmental Review

Chesapeake Bay Critical Area

The Chesapeake Bay Critical Area is a resource protection program, which was enacted by the Maryland General Assembly in 1984 in response to a growing decline in the ecosystem of the Bay and its vast watershed. This decline was driven by increasing concentrations of population within the Bay's watershed, coupled with subsequent land development, particularly intense commercial and industrial development.

The Critical Area is defined as all land within 1,000 feet of the Mean High Water Line of tidal waters or the landward edge of tidal wetlands and all waters of and lands under the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

The Maryland General Assembly also created a statewide Critical Area Commission in 1984, which consists of 29 voting members appointed by the Governor and selected from Baltimore City and counties with Critical Area lands. The Commission was charged with establishing protective criteria for the use and development of the Critical Area and to oversee the development and implementation of local land use programs which were based on the criteria established by the Commission.

St. Mary's County Critical Area Program

The County first adopted its Critical Area Program on March 27, 1990. The program and subsequent amendments are governed by Subtitle 18 of Title 8 of the Natural Resources Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland and Title 27 of the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR).