Town of Emmitsburg
300A S. Seton Ave Emmitsburg, Maryland

Emmitsburg Comprehensive Plan
A General Plan for Emmitsburg, Maryland

Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: The 1974 Comprehensive Plan for Emmitsburg
Chapter 3: Demographic Element
Chapter 4: Land Use Element
Chapter 5: Transportation Element
Chapter 6: Housing
Chapter 7: Economic Development and Renewal
Chapter 8: Community Design Element
Chapter 9: Community Facilities
Chapter 10: Environment and Sensitive Areas
Chapter 11: Implementation Strategies

Chapter 10: Environment and Sensitive Areas

The Maryland Economic Growth, Resource Protection, and Planning Act of 1992 stipulates that local governments provide for the protection of "Sensitive Areas" through the comprehensive plan. Article 66B of the Annotated Code of Maryland states that the comprehensive plan shall include "a sensitive areas element that contains goals, objectives, principals, policies, and standards designed to protect, from adverse effects of development, sensitive areas, including the following: 1) streams and their buffers; 2) 100year floodplains; 3) habitats of threatened and endangered species; and 4) steep slopes."

The purposes of this element are: 1) to describe the physical characteristics of the land in and around Emmitsburg; 2) to identify constraints to development; 3) to identify physical features which should be protected from development; and 4) to set forth recommendations and policies for the protection of environmental resources and sensitive areas.

The environment is the product of elements that are linked through a complex system of natural and manmade relationships. Groups of these elements share common characteristics that strengthen the relationships among them.



The State of Maryland classifies every waterway according to the most critical use for which it must be protected, and sets standards for maximum or minimum allowable levels of fecal coliform bacteria, dissolved oxygen, temperature, pH, residual chlorine, six toxic materials, turbidity. The State has also set acceptable limits for chemical content of groundwater.

Class IV streams are classified as Recreational Trout Waters; Class III streams are classified as Natural Trout Streams; Class 11 streams are classified as shellfish harvesting water - none exist in the Emmitsburg area; and Class I streams are streams which may be suitable for water-contact recreation.

Surface Water Resources - Streams

Healthy stream habitat has a direct effect on the stream's response to rainfall, the level and consistency of water flows, and the overall water quality levels. Healthy streams contain a variety of characteristics, including slow-moving runs, deep pools, and vegetative cover.

Loss of riparian vegetation and increased intensity of use in areas adjacent to streams have the greatest impact on the quality and the quantity of water within the stream system. Increased amounts of paved or impervious surfaces within the Town, along with reductions in forest cover adjacent to stream banks, can result in a degraded stream system and an overall loss of water quality. Degraded streams usually have deteriorated stream banks and show signs of streambed widening, resulting in altered and inconsistent levels of water flow. Ensuing high water flows can cause flooding, whereas in periods of low water higher concentrations of pollutants are evident in the stream and parts of stream beds can dry up for periods of time.

The greater Emmitsburg area is served by the Tom's Creek watershed, as indicated in Map X.1. Tom's Creek flows from Pennsylvania west of MID 140, flowing west and south of the town. Although not currently within the town corporate limits, Emmitsburg's Town Park extends to the bank of Tom's Creek. Tom's Creek flows into the Monocacy River, which drains into the Potomac River, and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay.

Flat Run is the sole perennial stream within the present boundaries of Town of Emmitsburg. Following a course which runs from Pennsylvania through the north end of town, crossing North Seton Avenue east of Provincial Parkway, and East Main Street (MD 140) west of Silo Hill Road, Flat Run flows into Tom's Creek at a location southeast of town.

A number of smaller intermittent streams drain into Flat Run. The primary intermittent tributaries to Flat Run include: 1) Willow Rill, which flows south of, and parallel to, Main Street, crossing South Seton Avenue near the present Post Office facility; 2) Little Run (Tributary No. 40), which tracks north of Main Street, flowing into Flat Run near North Seton Avenue; and 3) Tributary No 41, another intermittent tributary which flows south and east from an area north of North Seton Avenue, flowing into Flat Run south of North Seton Avenue.

Middle Creek, a perennial stream which flows east of Harney Road, is a tributary of Tom's Creek. Middle Creek is not located within the present boundaries of Emmitsburg.

Surface Water Resources - Water Impoundments

Emmitsburg's reservoir and watershed are located on Turkey Creek, which is a small water impoundment located on a tributary of Tom's Creek located along Hampton Valley Road west of town. This impoundment is used as a water supply reservoir for the Town of Emmitsburg.

Groundwater Resources

The water supply in Emmitsburg is a result of precipitation which averages 48 inches per year in Frederick County. The amount of rainfall that runs off the land is estimated at 41 percent. The runoff could be tapped for water supply by withdrawal from streams by impoundments to delay passage. Evaporation also diminishes the amount of rainfall available for water supply. This occurs from the surface of land, from water resources, and through evapotranspiration from trees and plants (up to 41 percent). The remaining rainfall (18 percent) is stored in the soil and the underlying rock layers. Water travels at through these rocks at varying rates. Where the water table meets the surface or is forced to the surface, springs occur. Springs and the water table maintain the low-flow water level in streams. Water is withdrawn from the rock layer through wells or springs (i.e., groundwater), or from streams (i.e., surface water).

100-Year Floodplains

Historically, floodplains have been protected to guard against injury to people and to prevent the destruction of property. Along with these benefits, protection of floodplains serves to moderate and store floodwater, absorb wave energy, and reduce erosion and sedimentation. Any type of development or infilling of floodplains may cause the natural level of floodwaters to rise, impacting areas within the Town, as well as areas downstream.

As defined, 100-year floods are those that could occur once in 100 years on average and are delineated on the most recent revision of the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) prepared by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for inclusion in their flood insurance program. Emmitsburg is a participating jurisdiction in the National Flood Insurance Program. It should be noted that floodplain areas along non-tidal streams that do not have FEMA delineations are also regulated by Frederick County and by the State.

Designated areas of 100-Year floodplain along the Flat Run stream basin are indicated in Map X.1. A significant area of 100-year floodplain is indicated along Flat Run, both north and south of East Main Street and extending to an area between Creamery Road and US 15. Mapped 1 00-year floodplain abuts the Emmit Gardens development along Park Drive and continues east and south of the Town.

Tom's Creek also includes a corridor of 100-year floodplain west and south of the current Town boundaries. This mapped area includes a significant expanse of 100year floodplain along Hampton Valley Road as well as along South Seton Avenue. Emmitsburg adopted the Maryland Model Floodl2lain Ordinance in December 1991. The ordinance states that a minimum 100 foot setback shall be maintained from the edge of the bank of any watercourse floodl2lain delineated on the Floodway Map or FIRM map. In cases in which development is proposed in the vicinity of unmapped streams, which have no delineated 100-year floodplain, the 50 foot flood protection setback shall be maintained from the top of the bank. The Floodplain Ordinance requires that a local permit be obtained for any proposed development in any floodplain zone. The local permit shall be granted only after necessary permits have been obtained from federal and State agencies. To prevent erosion, natural vegetation is to be maintained in the setback area. High priority is given to planting trees in the setback area to stabilize stream banks and to enhance aquatic resources.


Wetlands are lands that are wet for significant periods during the year and that typically create anaerobic (i.e. low-oxygen) conditions favoring the growth of hydrophytic plants and the formation of hydric soils. Many of these areas are commonly referred to as marshes, swamps, and bogs, although ponds can be also classified as non-tidal wetlands. Wetlands are important natural resources providing numerous values to society, including fish and wildlife habitat, flood protection, and water quality maintenance.

Many species of birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians use or depend upon wetlands for breeding, wintering, and stopover during migration. Wetlands supply food, breeding sites, and escape and cover for these animals. Wetlands are also essential habitats for many rare and endangered animals and plants.

Wetlands play a less conspicuous, but essential, role in maintaining high environmental water quality, especially in aquatic habitats. They do this in a number of ways, including purifying water by removing nutrients, chemical and organic pollutants, and sediments. Wetlands also produce food which supports natural life.

The more tangible benefits of wetlands may be considered socio-economic values. They include flood and storm drainage protection, erosion control, water supply and groundwater recharge, harvest of natural products, livestock grazing, and recreation. Since these values provide either dollar savings or financial profit they are more easily understood by most people.

Destruction or alteration of wetlands minimizes or eliminates their values. Drainage of wetlands, for example, eliminates all beneficial effects of wetlands on water quality and directly contributes to flooding problems. While landowners can derive financial benefits from some of the values mentioned, the public receives the majority of wetland benefits through flood and storm water damage control, erosion control, water quality improvement, and healthier fish and wildlife populations.

Emmitsburg and its surrounding vicinity contain two defined types of wetlands: Palustrine Wetlands and Riverine Wetlands. Palustrine Wetlands or upland wetlands usually include farm ponds, spring seeps, and groundwater recharge areas with an abundance of hydrophytic vegetation. Riverine Wetlands are located along stream corridors, generally adjacent to perennial streams. In the Emmitsburg area, Riverine Wetlands are indicated along Flat Run, Tom's Creek, and Middle Creek. Emmitsburg and the surrounding vicinity do not contain delineated Wetlands of Special State Concern.

Federal and State regulations provide for the protection of non-tidal wetlands and control disturbance to them. Non-tidal wetlands are defined under COMAR, Title as "an area that is inundated or saturated by surface water or ground water at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances does support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions, commonly known as hydrophytic vegetation."

Stream Valley Buffers/Corridors

Often as development activity increases, forests and natural vegetation along streams are diminished. The cumulative loss of large amounts of open space and trees reduces the ability of the remaining lands adjacent to the stream to buffer the effect of nonpoint pollution and protect against high stream flows.

Stream buffers are a crucial "best management practice" technique that reduces sediment, nitrogen, phosphorous and other runoff pollutants by acting as a filter, thus minimizing damage to streams.

The effectiveness of the stream buffer depends on several factors:

  • The width of the stream buffer. This should take into account factors such as contiguous or nearby steep slopes, soil erodibility, and wetlands;
  • The type of vegetation within the buffer area. Some plants are more effective at nutrient uptake that others; and
  • The maintenance of the buffer. Trees and natural, unmowed vegetation are preferable.

The buffer of a stream should be considered as more than a line on a map, it is part of the stream ecosystem, whose boundaries often depend on conditions of slope, soil, ground cover, and hydrology. The buffer should encompass parts of the stream ecosystem that are often dry, yet are integral to the health of the stream system. Therefore stream buffers ideally should include:

  • Floodplains where most stream wetlands are formed and where energy dissipation, natural filtration, food storage, and water storage occur;
  • Stream banks and steep slopes which should remain intact to prevent stream bed clogging from erosion and provide protected habitat for mammals and refuges for many plant species;
  • Stream side forests and other vegetation which provide habitat, stabilize banks, provide shading, reduce pollutants, and produces leaf-litter supporting a host of microorganisms, including microscopic shredders, filter feeders, and decomposers that form the base of a healthy stream food chain.

Stream valley buffers/corridors may also buffer incompatible land uses, provide for stormwater management, structure urban development, and link social activity sites via pedestrian greenways and trails.

Buffers minimize runoff and groundwater pollution by filtering pollutants through the soil and root zone. Wetlands and floodplains within a stream buffer slow storm flows and dissipate flood waters, allowing more of the water to percolate into the ground. The result is decreased flood damage, replenished groundwater aquifers, and increased protection for the biologic and hydrologic integrity of the stream.

Stream valley buffers should extend a minimum of 100 ft. from the edge of each stream bank along the sides of a stream, although small modifications may be possible to encourage environmentally sensitive design.


Emmitsburg is located within the Piedmont Province which is characterized by sedimentary formations and gently rolling topography. Featuring underlying red shale and sandstone formations of the Triassic Upland district, the underlying geologic base is composed of New Oxford and Gettysburg shale rock types. Much of the area is characterized by a shallow soil cover with a hard rock material overlying softer sandstone.

The geology of an area greatly affects groundwater yields. The Emmitsburg area is within Hydrologic Unit 111, which contains the poorest aquifers in Frederick County. Water occurs in fractures, and to a small extent, in the pores of sandstone. Water is of good quality generally, but locally is hard.

Basic geology should be a major factor in land use planning. Rock type is a dominant factor in determining the production of ores, fuels, industrial minerals, and construction materials. It is also equally important in determining the availability and quality of groundwater, foundation characteristics, and construction costs related to earth moving. Rock type and structure influence landform and surface drainage patterns.

Mineral Resources Element

Mineral mining is determined by the underlying geology in an area. Protection is required from surface development that can pre-empt the mining of minerals. Article 66B, Sections 3.05 (a)(1) and (a)(4) of the Annotated Code of Maryland requires that a Mineral Resources Plan Element. This Element must identify lands that should be left in an undeveloped state for future mineral extraction, identify postexcavation uses of the land, and incorporate land use policies to balance mineral resource extraction with other land uses to prevent the pre-emption of mineral resources extraction by other uses.

The Emmitsburg area does not contain geologic resources that are currently mined or have been mined in the recent past. No areas have been identified for potential mining or recommended for mineral resource conservation in the adopted Thurmont Region Plan. Accordingly, this Plan does not identify lands for mineral extraction, identify post-extraction uses or recommend policies to prevent preemption on mineral resources within the Emmitsburg town limits or proposed annexation areas.

Steep Slopes

Slopes provide an environment for movement of soil, sediments, and pollutants when land disturbance occurs. While soils have varying degrees of erodibility, all soils are subject to movement, which increases as the slope of the land increases. Steep slope regulation is a means of controlling the erosion potential on slopes where soil movement is most likely to be a problem.

Protection of steep slopes adjacent to streams is particularly important because of the potential harm to water quality and aquatic habitat caused by slope degradation. Excessive sediment harms trout and other stream species through the destruction of aquatic habitat and the reduction of oxygen levels necessary to sustain life.

protection of slopes adjacent to streams also lessens potential flood damage by limiting the increase in the rate of water flow.

Emmitsburg and its immediate vicinity is moderately sloped with increased slope activity north of Town, toward the Mason-Dixon Line. Some steeper sloped areas or bluffs are evident along portions of Flat Run and Tom's Creek. Restrictions on development in areas along Flat Run that exceed a certain specified grade are a consideration.

Relative to slope inclination and definition, Emmitsburg will rely on generally accepted planning practices which have established the following four (4) slope inclination categories as appropriate:

  1. Gentle: Less than 5 percent;
  2. Moderate: Between 5 to 15 percent;
  3. Steep: Between 15 to 25 percent; and
  4. Very Steep: Greater than 25 percent.


The soil types found in the Emmitsburg area consist mainly of Penn series soils interspersed with some Readington, Croton and Lehigh soils. Generally, these soils are fairly shallow with some red shale and sandstone rock fragments. They are well drained and moderately fertile. It should be noted that these soil types are restricted within Frederick County as to time of percolation for on-site septic systems. The suitability of these soils for development depends on the slope of the land, erodibility, and drainage patterns. Generally, steep slopes of these soil types are less suitable for development.

Soil not only serves to support and nourish plant life, it also serves as the foundation for our communities. Mismanaged, it can cause a multitude of problems and a five minute shower can disperse what it took centuries to accumulate. Soil erosion is a problem primarily limited to new development. Erosion during the development process can be controlled with sediment basins, diversions and a satisfactory timetable for slope development and seeding. A developer will save time and money by providing erosion controls initially, instead of having to refill the eroded areas at a later time.



Forests are a beneficial resource for a variety of reasons. Wooded areas stabilize steep slopes and slow urban water runoff. Within stream and river valleys, trees act as filters to sediment and pollutants which would otherwise foul the water, and their shade helps maintain cool temperatures for fish and other aquatic species. Woodlands also serve as screens and buffers, separating incompatible land uses and breaking the monotony of dense development.

Forests and woodland serve several important functions. Forested areas have large root systems and canopies that help reduce sources of non-point pollution from entering streams. Forests also serve as noise and visual barriers, reduce water temperature by providing shade and serve as wildlife habitat.

The Emmitsburg area has existing stands of forests along Tom's Creek and for most of the length of Flat Run. Larger tracts of forest land can be found in north Emmitsburg, particularly in the area of Tract Road extending toward Irishtown Road and west of Flat Run. Other smaller tracts of forest lands can be found in the area of the Community Park, east of the St. Joseph's Provincial House, east and west of US 15 near Welty Road and North Seton Avenue. Some smaller woodlots remain within Emmitsburg's corporate limits.

Standing forest resources within the Town are protected through Emmitsburg's Forest Conservation Plan, which are included as part of the Town's Subdivision Regulations.

Threatened and Endangered Species Habitat

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources - Natural Heritage Program prepares an inventory of threatened and endangered plant and animal species in Frederick County. A listing of species is available from the Natural Heritage Program and a map indicating the locations of threatened and endangered species for the Emmitsburg vicinity should be acquired by the Town.

Habitats of threatened and endangered species are areas which, due to their physical or biological features, provide important elements for the maintenance, expansion, and long-term survival of threatened and endangered species listed in COMAR 08.03.08. This area may include breeding, feeding, resting, migratory, or over-wintering areas. Physical or biological features includes, but are not limited to, structure and composition of the vegetation; faunal community; soils, water chemistry and quality; and geologic, hydrologic, and microclimatic factors.

Local jurisdictions are encouraged to incorporate flexible development regulations to promote innovative and environmentally sensitive site design to protect threatened or endangered species habitat.

Some flexible development regulations include:

  1. Channeling growth and development away from identified habitat areas as part of the comprehensive planning process;
  2. Permitting cluster developments as a development review option and clustering proposed developments to selected areas of parcels that contain listed species habitat, while protecting the remainder parcel;
  3. Adoption of a transfer of development rights (i.e., TDR) program to allow development rights from a property with identified habitat to be transferred to another property that is more suitable for development.

Proposed development projects in Emmitsburg should be assessed by the Town to determine whether the project will impact an area designated as threatened and endangered species habitat. Should a proposed development project be located in a delineated habitat area, it is recommended that the project be referred to the DNR Natural Heritage Program for prompt review.


Historic and Archaeological Resources

The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 established the National Historic Preservation Program. The principal elements of this program are identification, assistance, and protection. The Act also created the National Register of Historic Places, the federal government's list of significant historic places. Amendments to the Act in 1976 and 1982 provided financial incentives for private owners linked to National Register listing.

The Act established State Historic Preservation Officers who were designated to coordinate state and federal historic preservation functions and provide guidance to local governments. In Maryland, the State Historic Preservation Officer is the Director of the Maryland Historical Trust. The Maryland Historical Trust administers federal and state preservation programs and grant funds.

An historic sites survey of the Emmitsburg area was prepared in the 1980's by a certified historic sites surveyor. In March 1992, Emmitsburg was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Emmitsburg Historic District comprises the historic core of Main Street and Seton Avenue. Property owners in the Historic District area are eligible for tax incentives and low interest loans for upkeep and restoration of eligible historic structures.

The home and historic sites associated with Mother Elizabeth Seton at the Daughters of Charity - St. Joseph's Provincial House and at the former St. Joseph's College (i.e., the National Emergency Training Center) are significant to the worldwide Roman Catholic Community. These sites include the Stone House, Mother Seton's White House, and Mother Seton's tomb, among others. The historic and archaeological sites associated with Mother Seton and the religious order that she founded, the Sisters of Charity, are in a National Register Historic District which is administered by the Maryland Historical Trust.

Paleontological Resources

The Emmitsburg area has been the location of significant paleontological discoveries within the State of Maryland. Rocks found at a 19th Century Emmitsburg quarry contained footprints believed to be from a dinosaur species that lived during the Triassic Period. Some of these rocks were used for walkways both at the Sisters of Charity site and at the former St. Joseph's College (i.e., the present National Emergency Training Center). The Archives at Mount Saint Mary's College include documentation of these 19th Century paleontological fossil discoveries. Recent finds at an Emmitsburg subdivision included other types of fossil remains that are attributed to dinosaur species that once lived in the Emmitsburg area. The Maryland Geologic Survey states that Emmitsburg is the sole area within the State of Maryland that has yet been discovered to contain dinosaur fossils. Given the geologic conditions in the Emmitsburg area, uncovered fossil resources could extend a wide area throughout the Town.

The Town recognizes the significance of the fossil discoveries at Emmitsburg and supports the identification and management of its significant paleontological resources. One or more of the following actions could be considered:

  1. A sign indicating the general location of the 1 9th Century quarry;
  2. Short-term exploratory work at the original quarry site or another location within the Town;
  3. Management of the fossil resources and development of a dinosaur tourist attraction at Emmitsburg;
  4. A regulation in the zoning and subdivision ordinances calling for a short-term paleontological survey at the proposed location of new subdivisions and new site plans. Such surveys should be limited in length to no more than ten (10) days and should not interfere with the proposed development plans for the site as approved by the Town.

Scenic Resources

The Emmitsburg area contains outstanding scenic vistas and landscapes that are integral to the overall character and charm of the Town. A large part of the long-term economic potential of the Town can be attributed to the outstanding visual characteristics and unique built environment of Emmitsburg. The significant views range from the impressive vistas that are obtained from the roads and highways in the area, including the viewshed of downtown Emmitsburg, St. Joseph's Provincial House, and the National Emergency Training Center, as well as the spectacular panorama of nearby College Mountain. Some of the most significant views are contained entirely within the Town, including the viewscape along Main Street between the Town Square area to the Emmit House and from North Seton Avenue toward the Town Square.

Since scenic vistas are often associated with roads or highways, this Plan recognizes the importance of Gateway areas into Emmitsburg and seeks protect the character of the views of the Town that are obtained from the designated Gateway areas. To achieve these ends, this Plan recommends design standards that are intended to reduce visual clutter and protect the heritage of Emmitsburg's built environment from incompatible design and structural eyesores.


Environmental Noise

Noise, like other pollutants, is to a very substantial degree a waste product generated by the activities of our modern industrial society. It has been defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as "...any sound ... that may produce an undesirable physiological of psychological effect in an individual..."

One of the most conspicuous results of our current technology is that it exposes us to noise. Aircraft, automobiles, trucks, construction equipment, lawn mowers, even home appliances all contribute to the din that characterizes our modern society. Like air and water pollution, most noise is the result of our having made particular choices without full considering their impact on the people who have to live with them.

How people perceive loudness or noisiness of any given sound depends on several measurable physical characteristics of sound. These factors are:

  • Intensity - in general, a ten-decibel increase in intensity may be considered a doubling of the perceived loudness or noisiness of a sound.
  • Frequency Content - sounds with a concentration of energy between 2,000 Hertz and 8,000 Hertz are perceived to be more noisy that sounds of equal sound pressure level outside of this range.
  • Changes in Sound Pressure - sounds that are increasing in level are judged to be somewhat louder that those that are decreasing in level.
  • Rate of Increase in Sound Pressure Level - impulsive sounds (i.e., ones reaching a high peak very abruptly), are usually perceived to be very noisy.

Noise is insidious. Research in psychoacoustics has revealed that an individual's attitude, belief's, and values are greatly influenced by the degree to which a person considers a given sound annoying. The aggregate response of an individual has been found to depend upon:

  • Feelings about the necessity or preventability of the noise;
  • Judgment of the importance of the primary function of the activity that is producing the noise;
  • Activity at the time the individual hears a noise and the disturbance experienced as a result of the noise intrusion;
  • Attitudes about the overall neighborhood environment; 0 Feelings of fear associated with noise.
  • Like land use and transportation, noise is a quality of life issue which can be impacted through control measures. Unless urban noise control programs are implemented:
  • Urban noise levels will increase roughly in proportion to growth in population density.
  • A three to four fold increase in the number of residents adjacent to freeways and major highways who will be exposed to noise levels of 67 dBA Leq(h) is projected for the year 2020.
  • A 50 percent increase in the number of person-hours of exposure to construction noise by the year 2020.
  • Occupational hearing loss and other adverse effects can be expected to increase as the number of exposed workers increase.

Two types of techniques available to Emmitsburg for achieving noise-compatible land uses are: (1) administrative techniques, which can be used by the Town Commissioners to require or encourage noise compatibility; and (2) the physical methods available to architects, designers, developers, and builders for achieving the desired noise-impact reductions. The Planning Commission and Town Commissioners have the responsibility for regulating the development of noise sensitive land uses such as homes, schools, hospitals, and churches in noise impacted areas, or for ensuring that any new development that does occur, is designed to minimize the adverse impacts of noise.

Air Quality

Ambient Air Quality Standards are now in effect for the State of Maryland for sulfur oxides, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, and lead.

In 1988, Frederick County exceeded the standard for particulate matter four days out of the sampled fifty-seven sampled days. Particulates are small parcels (up to a nominal size of 25 to 45 microns in diameter) of solid and liquid substances. Sources of particulate matter include fuel burning, industrial operations, incinerators, petroleum refining, agricultural tilling, and motor vehicles.

Particulate matter may irritate and damage the respiratory system and may carry hazardous substances deep into the lungs. Persons suffering from respiratory illness, such as asthma and bronchitis, are particularly susceptible to the effects of particulate matter.

Frederick County consistently meets air quality standards for other pollutants. The metropolitan Baltimore and Washington region, of which Emmitsburg is a part, is currently classified as a non-attainment area for ozone. Sources of air pollution in Frederick County are automobile emissions, aircraft emissions, and heating furnaces. Measures such as maintaining high quality roads, tree planting, requiring reforestation, and encouraging the preservation of natural landscaping address this issue. Although the Baltimore and Washington metropolitan areas have experienced ozone violations, Frederick County has not. Violations are apt to occur when temperatures arise above 85 F degrees and the winds are from the southwest.

Energy Conservation

The tremendous increase in energy costs over the past two and a half decades has led to a heightened interest in the planning and design of energy-efficient structures and developments. The overall concepts of energy-conscious planning and design include not only reliance on solar and wind power, but the use of such basic design elements as the placement of vegetation for wind diversion or protection, the consideration of temperature variations caused by differing soil types on a particular site, and a myriad of similar basic planning and design guidelines.

Climate responsive design concepts to conserve energy have been used by humans throughout the ages. However, these concepts are viewed by many persons today as totally new and somewhat revolutionary. Climate responsive design simply uses and/or manipulates certain natural features of the environment to aid in the heating and/or cooling of a building.

To accomplish this, the individuals involved in the design and construction processes must pay careful attention to:

  • building orientation
  • bioclimatic concerns
  • physical character of the site
  • building form response
  • choice of materials
  • construction practices
  • potential use of passive solar resources Such as solar and natural ventilation

The end result would be as much as a 50 percent savings of the energy which would normally be consumed under current standards.



POLICY Pursuant to the Maryland Economic Growth, Resource Protection, and Planning Act of 1992, specifically Section 3.05 (a)(1)(viii) and Section 3.05 (a)(2) of Article 66B of the Annotated Code of Maryland, Emmitsburg designates the following environmental and/or cultural resources as Sensitive Areas:

  1. Streams and their buffers;
  2. 100-Year floodplains;
  3. Habitats of threatened and endangered species;
  4. Steep slopes;
  5. Groundwater resources, particularly with regard to well-head protection areas;
  6. Wetlands;
  7. Historic, archaeological, and paleontological resources.

POLICY Any growth that occurs after the adoption of these policies should develop in such a way that Emmitsburg's sensitive areas are protected.

POLICY The Town should work with the County and State agencies to establish overall water quality goals and specific standards for individual streams and stream segments.

POLICY The Town should establish a minimum buffer from the bank of streams and will encourage that land in stream corridors be protected through either permanent open space easements or through public ownership.

POLICY The Town recognizes the importance of stream corridors as water quality buffers, wildlife habitat, community edges, and locations for greenways and trails and encourages protection of these buffers from undue disturbance.

POLICY The Town should seek to minimize impacts on streams and floodplains through the adoption of flexible development regulations adjacent to stream corridors and floodplains that offer incentives for sound environmentally sensitive design. The intent of the flexible development regulations should be to promote the use of forested buffers to reduce sedimentation and pollutant loads n streams; to create protective greenway corridors along streams; and to designate and locate new wetlands to be incorporated as part of stormwater systems to filter out pollutants in run-off water and to decrease overall peak water flow.

POLICY The Town should continue to require new developments to connect to central water and sewer systems.

POLICY The Town should discourage the development on slopes with a grade of 25 percent or greater.

POLICY Special performance standards should be used to protect slopes with grades from 15 percent to 25 percent. These standards will include best management practices, locational clearances for clearing and grading, and approval of natural drainage ways.

POLICY The Town should conserve and protect wildlife habitat through the preservation of natural resources including stream corridors, wetlands, and undeveloped areas associated with steep slopes.

POLICY Emmitsburg should work with County and State agencies to protect the habitat of threatened and endangered plant and animal species in and around its watershed area on Hampton Valley Road.

POLICY Proposed development projects in Emmitsburg should be assessed as to whether the project will impact an area designated as threatened and endangered species habitat. Should a proposed development be located in a mapped area, the development project should be referred to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources - Natural Heritage Program, or their successor, for review and comment.

POLICY The Town should coordinate with County and State agencies to preserve existing wetlands and to mitigate their destruction when necessary. Should a proposed development project include an area of delineated wetland, the project should be referred to the Maryland Natural Resources Administration for review and comment.

POLICY The Town should identify criteria to evaluate the location of new wetlands that are proposed to be constructed in association with storm drainage systems or wetland mitigation projects.

POLICY Forests and vegetation should be preserved along stream corridors to provide a riparian buffer to preserve stream water quality and provide for greenway vegetation.

POLICY The Town should develop an inventory of specimen tress and forest resources for the Emmitsburg vicinity to be used in forest management. Emmitsburg's specimen trees and forest resources should be protected from adverse public or private development impacts.

POLICY Forest banking shall be encouraged along stream corridors.

POLICY The Town should explore approaches to maintaining privately own d Open Space - Conservation areas as permanent open space, which should include the conveyance of conservation easements to th Town and/or designated land trusts.

POLICY The Town should develop and adopt an historic preservation plan and implementation tools to permit the effective preservation of the Town's historic structures and archaeological resources.

POLICY Emmitsburg should promote the private and public partnerships that seek to conserve the Town's historic structures and resources.

POLICY Emmitsburg encourages the adaptive reuse of historic structures and will develop and implement incentives and/or other mechanisms to preserve the Town's built environment.

POLICY The Town strongly encourages that the design of new signs, buildings, and subdivisions not conflict with existing historic structures and street design.

POLICY Emmitsburg should define, delineate, and prioritize critical scenic areas and viewsheds, particularly from Gateway areas, and adopt appropriate design standards to protect these areas.

POLICY Emmitsburg shall develop a continuous Greenway/tail system and will consider strategic purchases of open space areas to provide important trail linkages.

POLICY The Town strongly encourages that all new developments which contain noise sensitive uses including, but not limited to, residential uses, hospitals, nursing homes, and schools be designed to ensure that no noise sensitive use be exposed to highway noise levels which exceed adopted Maryland Department of Transportation highway noise standards.

POLICY To maximize solar access, streets should be oriented east/west to the greatest extent possible and lots should be oriented north/south to the greatest extent possible. The long access of a building should be oriented east/west to the greatest extent possible

POLICY The Town recognizes the significance of the fossil discoveries at Emmitsburg and supports the identification and management of the Town's significant paleontological resources. These could includ1) Signs to identify the significance of the fossil finds; 2) Short-term exploratory work at known fossil sites; 3) Management of the Town's fossil resources and development of a dinosaur tourist attraction at Emmitsburg; and 4) Requirements in the zoning and subdivision ordinances calling a short-term paleontological survey at the proposed location of new subdivisions and new site plans.


The environmental resources designated for protection through the Maryland Economic Growth, Resource Protection, and Planning Act of 1992 are streams and their buffers, 100-year floodplains, habitats of threatened and endangered species, and steep slopes. They are defined as follows:

  1. "Stream" means part of a watercourse, either naturally or artificially created, that contains intermittent or perennial base flow of groundwater origin. Ditches that convey surface water runoff exclusively from storm events are not included in this definition.
  2. "Stream buffers" are areas which extend a minimum of 100 ft. from the top of each stream bank along both sides of a stream.
  3. "Steep slopes" are defined as areas with slopes greater than 25%.
  4. The "100-Year floodplain" is the area which, after ultimate development of its watershed based on current zoning, would be inundated by water runoff from a 1 00-year storm.
  5. "Habitats of threatened and endangered species" are areas which, due to their physical or biological features, provide elements for the maintenance, expansion, and long-term survival of threatened and endangered species listed in COMAR 08.03.08. This area may include breeding, feeding, resting, migratory, or over-wintering areas. Physical or biological features include, but are not limited to, structure and composition of the vegetation; faunal community; soils; water chemistry and quality; and geologic, hydrologic, and micro-climatic factors.


  1. "Wetlands" (defined under COMAR, Title are generally areas that are inundated or saturates by surface water or groundwater at a frequency to support, and that under normal circumstances does support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions, commonly known as hydrophytic vegetation.
  2. "Wellhead buffers" are areas which extend 100 ft. Around any existing or proposed community water supply well or well site as may be designated on the adopted Water and Sewer Master Plan or the County Comprehensive Plan or the County Comprehensive Plan, or identified during the development process.
  3. "Class III waters" (defined under COMAR, Title are protected for the propagation of natural trout populations. These waters are governed by more stringent dissolved oxygen, chlorine, and temperature standards than other waters.

Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: The 1974 Comprehensive Plan for Emmitsburg
Chapter 3: Demographic Element
Chapter 4: Land Use Element
Chapter 5: Transportation Element
Chapter 6: Housing
Chapter 7: Economic Development and Renewal
Chapter 8: Community Design Element
Chapter 9: Community Facilities
Chapter 10: Environment and Sensitive Areas
Chapter 11: Implementation Strategies