Environment

The Town of Bel Air is situated between two stream valleys, Winters Run and Bynum Run. Naturally, this leads to development close to streams, non-tidal wetland issues and floodplain impacts. The Planning Department evaluates and works with property owners to mitigate impacts to streams, wetlands, floodplains, steep slopes, forested areas and on tree retention programs.

Floodplain



A new Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) for Harford County became effective as of April 19, 2016. A map of floodplain areas in the Town can be viewed here.

The Town Planning Department handles all flood insurance questions. Copies of the FIRM are available for review at the Planning and Public Works building and at the Town Hall. Town of Bel Air Planning Department will determine the proximity of Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA) for properties located within the town limits based on the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM). Elevation certificates and related information for any new or substantially improved structures located in Special Flood Hazard Areas are maintained by the Town since inclusion into the National Flood Insurance Program in September 1981.

The Town participates in the Community Rating System (CRS) and currently holds a Class 7 rating. By requiring additional flood proofing standards beyond that required by the National Flood Insurance Program, Town property owners receive a 15% discount on flood insurance premiums.

The Town prepared and approved a Flood Mitigation Plan in 2012. The Plan includes past flood events, mapped floodplain areas and an action matrix of proposed and planned flood mitigation projects. The Town is required through its CRS program to reevaluate the Plan each year and update the Plan every 5 years. The 2015 Plan Evaluation for calendar year 2014 is available for review.

Wetland areas as determined through engineered delineations are mapped and available for review at the Planning Department. 


Tree Committee
The Tree Committee oversees the implementation of the Tree Plan as part of Tree City USA program.  The group consists of those interested or expert in horticulture, arborculture and landscape management.  The Committee also supervises the Town celebration of Arbor Day
- Leave It on the Lawn Brochure
Proper Tree Selection
Tree Topping
Town of Bel Air Champion Tree List
Why Hire an Arborist Brochure
- MD's Lawn Fertilizer Law

Urban Tree Canopy (UTC) & Forest Conservation
Urban Tree Canopy (UTC) is defined as the layer of woody material from trees (leaves, branches, stems) that cover the ground when viewed from above.  The benefits of urban tree canopy are many – improved water quality through sediment and erosion control, energy savings through ground surface cooling and diminished “heat island” effect (cooler air temperatures), wildlife habitat, and enhanced property values and the aesthetic  benefits of park, street, and landscape trees.  The UTC for the Town of Bel Air currently stands at approximately 37%.  Information regarding the Town’s UTC can be found in the 2015 Tree Plan
  
Town Residents can help maintain the Town's UTC by requesting FREE STREET TREES.
 
The Town Development Regulations require the mapping and evaluation of tree cover prior to issuance of any permit. Small lot development (under 40,000 square feet) requires an individual tree stand delineation. Large lot development (over 40,000 square feet) requires a Forest Stand Delineation (FSD) and Forest Conservation Plan (FCP) as indicated in Chapter 216 of the Bel Air Town Code. Copies of the requirements are available at the Planning Department.
 
Environmental Assessment
Any development that has potential to impact sensitive areas and not require a Forest Stand Delineation (FSD) an Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR) addressing identification, protection, impact mitigation, and enhancement of the environmental resources of the project site and its vicinity. Submission requirements typically include maps and analysis, and narrative fully and accurately describing the environmental impact of the proposed development. The EIAR is submitted to the Planning Department along with site plan submission.

Source Water Protection Plan
The Source Water Protection Plan (SWPP) for Bel Air was administered by Maryland Department of the Environment by S. S. Papadopulos & Associates (SSP&A) and Chesapeake Environmental Management (CEM).  Source Water Protection Plan for Bel Air
 
Plumtree Run Watershed Assessment

An assessment by Harford County on Plumtree Run and its tributaries.  This study reviews the impact of uncontrolled storm water runoff from the Town into the stream and provides mitigation recommendations from Plumtree Park to Atkisson Reservoir in the County.