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 and forested areas. The Planning department helps property owners with tree retention programs.
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 6 rating. By requiring additional flood proofing standards beyond that required by the National Flood Insurance Program, Town property owners receive a 20% discount on flood insurance premiums.
The Town recently prepared and approved a revised Flood Mitigation Plan. 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 (2022 Annual Evaluation) and update the Plan every 5 years.
For your information, here is a Flood Brochure. Maryland has a Flood Risk Application map viewer available at
http://mdfloodmaps.net/ Additional information can be found at the following FEMA websites: FloodSmart at www.floodsmart.gov and the flood insurance page at www.fema.gov/business/nfip
Wetland areas as determined through engineered delineations are mapped and available for review at the Planning Department.
Tree CommitteeThe 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 2020 Tree Plan.
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.