What to know about Buying Waterfront in AA County

Real Estate

Thinking About Buying Waterfront in Anne Arundel County? Here’s What You Need to Know.

In 1984 the Maryland General Assembly passed the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Law which resulted in the creation of Anne Arundel County’s Critical Area Program in 1988. This established the land area located 1,000 feet from any waterfront or tidal wetlands as “The Critical Area” including a 100 ft “Critical Area Buffer”, which is the area of land that extends landward from the mean high-waterline.

The land in The Critical Area is subject to multiple rules and regulations that might affect what a buyer can or cannot do with a property which might affect the price a buyer might pay for said property.

There are 3 Land Use Classification categories (IDA, LDA and RCA) which contain specific criteria regarding grading, building and land use. Learn which one of these classifications the property you are considering falls under and understand its criteria before purchasing property in the Critical Area.

Generally, a lot in the Critical Area is allowed to have a limited amount of impervious coverage. Impervious coverage includes a structure, accessory structure, pools, decks, parking areas, driveways and walkways.  Anything covered with gravel, stone, shells, pavers, or any man-made material is also considered impervious by The County.

A buyer may, or may not, be permitted to make changes to a property dependent on the following zoning designations:  R1 allows 1 dwelling unit per acre.  R2 allows 1 dwelling unit per half acre (if on septic), and 2.5 dwelling units per acre if on public sewer. Lastly, R5 allows of 5 dwelling units per acre.

 Septic systems are common in AA County. It’s important that home buyers are fully aware what they’re getting into before they buy a home with Septic in the Critical Area.  Septic systems in AA County are sized based on the total square footage of living space.  If you’re planning an addition or modification to the existing structure, the capacity of the existing septic system has to be evaluated by the Health Dept.  In order to get any required permits to do an addition or renovation in the Critical Area, the septic may have to be replaced by a Nitrogen BAT (Best Available Technology) system which can be costly.  In that case, a perk test will most likely need to be done.  These tests can only be done once a year during wet season in the Spring.  The timing and cost of this process should be considered.

All trees, including shrubs and vines are considered habitat in the Critical Area.  All vegetation removal including dead or damaged trees requires an approved Vegetation Management Plan prior to removal.

When purchasing or selling a home it’s important to have a Real Estate Agent who genuinely looks out for the interests of his/her clients.  As presented in this article, buying waterfront properties in Anne Arundel County presents challenges over and beyond those that occur in a non-waterfront purchase.  Choosing an agent who is knowledgeable about the Critical area and doing your own due diligence prior to purchase will result in fewer surprises and disappointments down the road. Do your homework and use knowledgeable local Real Estate Professionals when purchasing a waterfront home.