New Maryland Code Encourages Low-Impact Landscapes

If you live in the Village of River Hill and are interested in nurturing butterflies and other wildlife in your own backyard, the River Hill Architectural Committee (RHAC) would like your input on proposed changes to its Architectural Guidelines. The Maryland General Assembly has spoken, joining a growing number of states since the Maryland Senate voted unanimously in favor of House Bill 322, the low-impact landscaping bill that codifies your right as a homeowner to be plant-friendly and environmentally conscious. Thriving native plants and rain gardens can create healthy, resilient green spaces and ecosystems within our community and the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

Recognizing the Chesapeake Bay and its Watershed as a “national treasure” for its ecological, cultural, and recreational significance should be a priority to us all. Further, the Chesapeake Bay is one of the most productive estuaries in the world, however, the watershed has experienced dramatic land use change with the growth of agriculture, industry, and residential development during the 400 years since colonization. These land uses have contributed polluted runoff resulting in a decrease of native wildlife, habitats, and healthy aquatic life such as blue crabs and rockfish.

River Hill Community Association (RHCA), as a Homeowners’ Association, is engaging in this effort to restore and protect key Chesapeake Bay species and their habitats, by “slowing the flow” of storm water runoff and reducing pollutants affecting the Bay. RHCA can no longer require you to plant only turf grass, but rather will encourage homeowners to use native plants, rain barrels, and rain gardens. House Bill 322, along with House Bill 248, went into effect on October 1, 2021, creating the need for the Architectural Committee to update its guidelines to comply with the changes in Maryland Code.

Residents are encouraged to sign up for the Village of River Hill’s email blasts to stay current on the process, which will include a sixty-day public comment period, access to the proposed changes both by hard copy and online, and public hearings. If you are not already subscribed, you can sign up on our website at www.villageofriverhill.org, by liking the River Hill Community Association’s Facebook page, or by texting CLARETHALL to 22828. Updates will be posted on the website and in future issues of The Villager. Stay tuned.

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