The Deep Creek Lake Policy and Review Board held its Fall meeting on Monday evening with about 25 lake stakeholders in attendance.
The PRB was created when the State purchased Deep Creek Lake in 2001. Lake management was envisions as a coordinated effort among DNR Lake Management, Garrett County and the Policy and Review Board. Specifically this Board is charged with reviewing and advising the DNR Secretary on matters relating to the DCL Management Fund and management program. The Board may review and make recommendations to the Secretary on budgetary matters than concern the management and maintenance of the lake and the buffer area. It is also supposed to serve as the “ears” of the stakeholder community and keep the Secretary informed on matters of importance.
There are 10 members of the Board, with 7 seats assigned: one each to the state delegation, one to county commissioners, one to the DCL POA the Chamber of Commerce and another to the Maryland Bass Federation. There are 2 seats reserved for Garrett County resident and 2 non-residents. The Board is required to meet at least 4 times a year with no meeting allowed to last more than two hours, unless extended by the Board.
While some PRB meetings have one issue as the major agenda, such as water levels, report from DNR on water sampling, the Monday evening covered a wide range of topics.
Judd Vickers, from DNR Land Acquisition and Planning Office in Annapolis addressed the PRB on a number of issues relating to the buy-down– parcels of land which were sold to abutting property owners after the State purchased the lake. Though the buy down process has been closed for several years, there are a remaining 4-5 properties which are still in the process.
The buy down parcels are separate deeds with strong conservation requirements. Vickers reported they have found some cases where the names on the title of the buy down parcel are not exactly the same as on the primary parcel, causing serious title problems when the properties are sold. He urged lake property owners to double check to be sure both parcels are titled with the same name.
Carolyn Mathews, Lake Manager, asked Vickers to address the issue of the boundary monuments. Some of the new monuments as well as old ones are deteriorating, in other cases they have gone missing. It is the responsibility of the adjoining property owners to replace monuments. Morgan Franz who was the surveyor was in the audience. He reported it costs between $400 to $500 for a resurvey and setting of a new monument. Delegate Beitzel, member of the PRB said he and State Senator George Edwards introduced and got past legislation which set a fine of $2,000 on anyone who willfully destroys such a marker.
Chair of the PRB, David Myerberg, a lawyer from Morgantown, reported DNR Secretary Griffin will be accepting the advisement of the Board to allow for a boat length of 27′ on the lake for those vessels with a molded dive platform. He did report the Secretary is concerned that boats at the lake are getting larger and larger.
Since the lake is managed by the State, all such changes like boat length recommende3d by the PRB then have to be reviewed and approved by the State Boating Services Advisory Committee. They would then propose changes in regulations. It is unclear exactly how long this process will take place with the additional review and approval procedures required at the State level. Final notice to the public is publication in the Maryland Register.
Carolyn Mathews reported progress in getting approval from Maryland Department of Environment for use of Rosetta stone for shoreline retaining walls. Though Lake Management is under DNR, MDE must approve any disturbances which might impact water quality. A number of years ago, MDE created a set fee for their review of protection proposals of $750 and another $750 for engineering review if the project was approved. The $1,500 fees are added to the costs to private property owners who do the actual shoreline protection measures, on the state owned buffer strip.
Mathews reported she has heard but has not been formally notified MDE may be reducing the cost of the engineering fee.
Many property owners wonder why the state is not responsible for shoreline protection since the buffer strip along the lake is owned by the State. The addition of the MDE fees just made the whole issue even weirder because private property owners are paying a fee to one state agency to stabilize a shoreline owned by the state and managed by another state agency.
Garrett County Commissioner Bob Gatto gave a report to the Board. He announced the County will be launching a program to provide private property owners with County funds to encourage them to undertake shoreline erosion. They have set aside $50,000 of County tax revenues for this purpose. So, now we have another level of government involved in shoreline restoration.
Gatto reported on the water works building being constructed on Rte. 219 just north of the Popcorn Factory building. This will provide water to properties up the mountainside along this area of the lake.
Gatto reminded the Board and audience that Secretary Griffin and staff will be coming to a Board of County Commissioners meeting on November 14, starting at 4 pm at the Social Hall.
Mathews reported Boating Services in Annapolis has passed regulations relating to wake surfing. These will be appearing in the Maryland Register soon. Because this water sport requires creation of huge wakes, action has been taken to reduce the impact and provide for public safety. Wake surfing will only be allowed to take place in a zone 200 feet or more from shoreline, docks, other vessels. Essentially this will limit wake surfing to the middle of the lake. DNR is considering posting a map for approved wake surfing area on its website before next boating season.
Final item was notice of resignation of Barry Weinberg from the POA and therefore from the POA reserved seat of the PRB. Delegate Beitzel and Senator Edward’s both acknowledged the huge contribution Weinberg has made to the PRB and the lake. He served as one of the original members of the PRB, which was created in 2001. Weinberg sits on two of the working committees of the PRB, one on water levels and the other on review of the Code of Maryland as it pertains to Deep Creek Lake. Robert Hoffman will be taking Weinberg’s seat starting with the next PRB meeting, which has been scheduled for Monday, January 28, 2013 at 6 pm at the Discovery Center.a