MD court to hear appeals over stormwater permits for Baltimore, 4 counties

The Maryland Court of Appeals was to hear oral arguments in early November in three separate cases involving permits issued by the Maryland Department of the Environment that will govern how stormwater is handled within four of Maryland’s largest counties and Baltimore City. At issue is whether the permits that the MDE issued were strong enough and included enough public notice and public feedback. The Court of Appeals will hear the arguments and make its ruling within a few months.

The Circuit Court ruled against the environmental groups in the cases of permits for Baltimore and the three counties. The environmental groups appealed to the Court of Special Appeals. But Maryland Department of the Environment lawyers asked if the cases could be consolidated in the highest court and heard along with the Montgomery case. The court agreed.

Chavez won decisively at the Court of Special Appeals in April with the Montgomery case. The three-judge panel for the lower court called the permit requirements “vague” and “simply too general” and said it lacked meaningful deadlines. The judges ordered the document back to the department for revisions.

“All of it really ties back to the same theme — we need to have permits that are written to get results. And, monitoring to give us meaningful feedback on what the permits are actually achieving is really important,” said Chavez, an attorney with Earthjustice who is the lead on the Montgomery County case. “Overarching all of this is the accountability and transparency.”

Read more: Bay Journal, Nov. 2, 2015, Rona Kobell