Charles County, MD
 
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
The purpose of this zone is to protect stream valley habitat and stream water quality. In particular, the purposes of this zone are to:
A. 
Preserve floodplains in a natural state;
B. 
Preserve wetlands associated with floodplains;
C. 
Preserve significant habitat areas associated with stream valleys or in other locations;
D. 
Prevent soil erosion and sedimentation by protecting steep slopes associated with stream valleys;
E. 
Protect persons and property from environmental hazards such as unstable or highly erodible soils and flooding;
F. 
Filter nutrients, toxics and sediment from stormwater;
G. 
Protect scenic values;
H. 
Provide recreational opportunities; and
I. 
Minimize public investment in floodplain stormwater management.
[Amended 8-22-1994 by Ord. No. 94-80]
These regulations shall apply to all proposed development, including projects for which subdivision, site plan, building and grading permits or approvals are necessary; timber harvesting; and agricultural activities, except as provided in §§ 297-480, 297-481 and 297-482 of this chapter.
The Resource Protection Zone (RPZ) shall apply to those County streams or those portions of County streams outside of the Critical Area Zone, including but not limited to: Zekiah Swamp, Gilbert Run, Nanjemoy Creek, Swanson Creek, Indian Creek, Port Tobacco River, Mattawoman Creek, Chicamuxen Creek, Popes Creek, Indian Creek, Wards Run, Kerrick Swamp, Mill Run, Beaverdam Creek, Hancock Run, Old Woman's Creek, Piney Branch and tributaries thereof or of the Potomac River.
[Amended 2-10-1998 by Ord. No. 98-59]
The Resource Protection Zone shall encompass stream valleys, steep slopes, associated wetlands and floodplains, if present; and a buffer, as called for in §§ 297-171 and 297-172. Except as permitted in this chapter, the land within this zone is to remain in an undisturbed natural stage, and the outer edge of this zone shall constitute the limit of clearing and grading.
[Amended 8-22-1994 by Ord. No. 94-80]
A. 
The minimum buffer standards shall be as follows:
(1) 
One hundred feet for streams of stream order three or higher.
(2) 
Fifty feet for intermittent streams and streams of stream order one and two.
B. 
The minimum buffer shall extend outward from both sides of the stream channel. The buffer shall be measured horizontally from the stream channel without regard for the lay of the land.
[Amended 8-22-1994 by Ord. No. 94-80]
A. 
The buffer shall be expanded beyond the minimum buffer to account for nontidal wetlands adjacent to the stream as follows:
(1) 
Within the development district, to include all lands 25 feet from the outer edge of nontidal wetlands adjacent to the stream channel.
(2) 
Outside the development district, to include all lands measured from the edge of nontidal wetlands adjacent to the stream channel measuring 50 feet for intermittent streams or perennial streams of stream order one and two or 100 feet for perennial streams of stream order three and four.
B. 
Where the one-hundred-year floodplain extends beyond the buffer adjusted for nontidal wetlands, if applicable, the extent of the one-hundred-year floodplain shall become the extent of the buffer.
C. 
The buffer shall be further increased to account for steep slopes that are contiguous with or within 25 feet of the buffer.
(1) 
The buffer width shall be increased by 50 feet for intermittent streams or perennial streams of stream order one and two or 100 feet for perennial streams of stream order three and four or shall extend to the top of the slope, whichever is less, where average slopes greater than 15% adjoin the minimum buffer or are within 25 feet of the minimum buffer.
(2) 
Percentage of average slopes shall be determined by plotting a transect from the outer edge of the minimum buffer to the top of the adjoining slope, defined as the point at the top of slope where the slope falls below 15%, and calculating an average slope from the slope percentages crossed by the transect. The number of transects will vary depending on the uniformity of slopes adjoining a particular reach of a stream. Transects may be spaced up to 100 feet apart, regardless of slope uniformity. However, transect spacing exceeding 100 feet shall be based on slope uniformity.
The following uses shall be prohibited in the RPZ:
A. 
Mining or excavation, except for existing operations.
B. 
Dredging, except as may be permitted under state law.
C. 
Deposit or landfilling of fill, refuse and solid or liquid waste, except manure applied as a crop fertilizer, and acceptable fill permitted by the United States Army Corps of Engineers for streambank erosion control.
D. 
Alteration of the stream bed and bank of a waterway, except for best management practices to reduce stream erosion and construction and maintenance of stream crossings for permitted uses.
E. 
Clearing of vegetation and grading, except as may be permitted under this chapter.
The following land uses shall be permitted, provided that the conditions herein are met:
A. 
Agriculture. Agricultural uses shall be permitted, provided that a soil conservation and water quality plan is approved by the Charles County Soil Conservation District. Existing agricultural uses must obtain approval within three years from the adoption of this chapter. The soil conservation and water quality plan shall include twenty-five-foot vegetative filter strips adjoining streams.
B. 
Timber harvesting. Landowner timber harvesting for personal use shall be permitted. Commercial timber harvesting shall be permitted, provided that the timber harvesting is conducted in conformance with the Natural Resources Article, Title 5, Forests and Parks, Subtitle 16, Forest Conservation, of the Annotated Code of Maryland, or a local program pursuant to said subtitle.
[Amended 8-22-1994 by Ord. No. 94-80]
C. 
Utility transmission lines, railroads, roads, stormwater management facilities, storm drainage improvements, recreational nonmotorized trails, public environmental education facilities, facilities for recreational access to a stream and associated clearing shall be permitted, provided that:
(1) 
Project location in the RPZ is essential for access or continuity and no reasonable alternatives exist.
(2) 
Crossings of the RPZ are as close to 90° as reasonably possible.
(3) 
The project complies with the requirements of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Charles County Floodplain Management Ordinance.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 238, Flood Damage Control.
(4) 
The project is designed to minimize disturbance, clearing and grading.
(5) 
Approved sedimentation and erosion control, best management practices and revegetation plans in accordance with Title 5, Subtitle 16, Forest Conservation, of the Annotated Code of Maryland, or local program pursuant to Title 5, Subtitle 16, Forest Conservation, of the Annotated Code of Maryland, as applicable, are implemented for the project.
[Amended 8-22-1994 by Ord. No. 94-80]
(6) 
The habitats of federal- or state-listed threatened and endangered species or other critical habitats are fully protected.
D. 
New single-family dwellings and accessory structures proposed on lots of record as of October 1, 1992. Up to a total of 5,000 square feet may be disturbed in the Buffer, provided that any disturbance to the floodplain must comply with County Floodplain Regulations.[2]
[Added 8-22-1994 by Ord. No. 94-80]
[2]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 238, Flood Damage Control.
Land within the RPZ may be used to meet open space requirements.
A. 
The County Commission may extend, upon receiving an application for extension, the RPZ to include adjoining hydric soils, severely erodible soils, entire steep slopes, state-designated natural heritage areas, state-designated wetlands of special concern, habitats of federally or state-listed threatened and endangered species, other critical and significant wildlife and plant habitats deserving of protection and priority-one forested areas in accordance with the Natural Resources Article, Title 5, Subtitle 16, Forest Conservation, of the Annotated Code of Maryland. Applications for extension of the RPZ will follow the same processing and requirements as a local map amendment, detailed in Article XXVII.
B. 
The following are examples of critical and significant wildlife and plant habitats deserving protection:
(1) 
Large forested areas which are occupied by rare threatened and endangered species which may be located beyond the Critical Area.
(2) 
Large forested areas (e.g., over 100 acres) wherein 60% or more of the area is occupied by steep slopes (e.g., slopes over 25%).
(3) 
Forested areas associated with nontidal wetland vegetation where the area of nontidal or hydric soils coincidental with the forest is over 25 acres.
The application of this zone to the County Zoning Maps shall be construed as general in nature and may be adjusted by the Zoning Officer upon the presentation of engineering data which delineates more precisely the boundaries of this zone.
A. 
All plans submitted to Charles County for review shall indicate the boundary of the RPZ and buffer width, as applicable.
B. 
All plats prepared for recording shall clearly show:
(1) 
The extent of the RPZ.
(2) 
A label stating "Resource Protection Zone" for the area within the RPZ.
(3) 
A note stating: "There shall be no clearing, grading, construction or disturbance of vegetation in the Resource Protection Zone except as may be permitted by the Charles County Planning Commission."
[Amended 12-7-1993 by Ord. No. 93-100; 11-21-1994 by Ord. No. 94-100[1]]
[1]
Editor's Note: Ordinance Nos. 93-100 and 94-100 also repealed former Subsection B(4), regarding conservation easements for RPZ land, which immediately followed this subsection.
The outer edge of the RPZ buffer shall be field-staked and clearly delineated as the limit of clearing and grading prior to the commencement of clearing and grading activities within 50 feet of the RPZ, permitted clearing and grading in the RPZ excepted. The limits of permitted clearing and grading within the RPZ shall likewise be field-staked and clearly delineated.
The enforcement provisions of the Charles County Grading and Sediment Control Ordinance[1] shall also apply to this zone.
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 244, Grading and Sediment Control.
A performance bond or other surety in a form and amount established as acceptable to the County shall be executed by the applicant to cover possible damage to RPZ lands during construction. The bond or surety shall remain in full force until the work encompassed by the applicable grading permit has been completed and approved by the County. Accidental or incidental construction damage to the RPZ may result in a full or partial forfeiture of the performance bond or surety, depending on the severity of the violation and the costs of restoring damaged RPZ land. It shall be the applicant's responsibility to restore damaged RPZ land in accordance with County revegetation requirements.
The variance provisions of Article XXV shall apply to this article.