Baltimore Tells Woman to Pave Over Her Mulch Driveway

Woman's solution to prevent runoff doesn't measure up to Baltimore code

By Anne Reynolds
|  Tuesday, Jan 19, 2010  |  Updated 8:30 PM EDT
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Baltimore Tells Woman to Pave Over Her Mulch Driveway

Amy Davis/Baltimore Sun

Maxine Taylor

 

So much for being an environmentally conscious city.

Baltimore -- which says it's committed to being "cleaner and greener" -- has told one of its residents that her eco-friendly driveway doesn't measure up to city codes and she has to pay up.

Maxine Taylor decided to mulch her driveway instead of paving it, allowing rain water to soak into the ground instead of creating runoff that carries pollutants.But her ground cover is not allowed under city codes, which require dustless, all-weather materials like asphalt, concrete or stone block.

Taylor appealed the $66 fine, which has since been reduced to $35. According to the Baltimore Sun, the judge told her that the only way she could keep her car on her property would be if she paved the driveway. Since then she's been parking on the street (but that defeats the point of having a driveway, right?).

The city's zoning chief said the city offered to work with Taylor to figure out a way to redo her driveway, but for Taylor, that's not the point.

The city's "green" campaign has led them to remove pavement in other parts of the city to save the Chesapeake Bay from polluting run-off. So why can't Maxine Taylor join in the eco-friendly campaign? The answer appears to lie in the depths of city law, which have not caught up with today's eco-friendly thinking.

Baltimore Housing spokesperson Cheron Porter told the Baltimore Sun that regardless of motive, everyone has to follow the regulations that the city has passed.

"There's a law in place, and so we follow the law," Porter said.

Not every city is down on the idea of mulching driveways. In fact, Falls Church, Va., encourages its residents to cover driveways and paths with mulch. It even provides free wood chips to its residents, and delivers them free of charge.

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