Critical Area Commission for the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays

About the Commission and Its Members

  • Roles and Responsibilities of the Commission
  • Composition
  • Terms of the Commission Members
  • Current Commission Membership
  • Roles and Responsibilities of the Commission

    The Commission was created by the Critical Area Act in 1984. The Commission was initially charged with adopting regulations and criteria necessary to effectively implement the Act. This effort was completed in 1985; whereupon the Commission was required to review and approve all local government plans, programs, ordinances, and regulations that were proposed as part of a jurisdiction's Critical Area Program. This review and approval process took several years, but all local Critical Area Programs were operational in 1990.

    Today the Commission's primary responsibilities are the following:

  • Review and approve State projects on State-owned land in the Critical Area;
  • Review and approve State or local agency actions resulting in major development on private lands or lands owned by local jurisdictions; and
  • Review and approve all changes to a jurisdiction's Critical Area Program, including changes to ordinances, regulations, and maps.
  • Composition


    The Commission consists of 29 voting members who are appointed by the Governor. The composition of the Commission is as follows:

    A chairman, appointed with the advice and consent of the Senate, who serves at the pleasure of the Governor.

    Thirteen individuals appointed with the advice and consent of the Senate, each of whom is a resident and an elected or appointed official of a local jurisdiction, and may only serve on the Commission while they hold local office. At least one of the 13 must be an elected or appointed official of a municipality. Each is selected from certain counties or from municipalities within the counties as follows:

  • One from each of Baltimore City, Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Prince George's counties;
  • One from Harford or Cecil County;
  • One from Kent or Queen Anne's County;
  • One from Caroline County;
  • One from Talbot or Dorchester County;
  • One from Wicomico or Somerset County;
  • Two from Calvert, Charles, or St. Mary's County (both cannot be from the same county); and
  • Two from Worcester County, one who is a resident of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and the other who is a resident of the Atlantic Coastal Bays watershed.
  • Eight individuals appointed with the advice and consent of the Senate, who represent diverse interests, and among whom shall be a resident of each of the five counties listed above from which an appointment has not been made subject to the requirements of the thirteen individuals listed above. Three of these eight individuals are "at-large members", one of whom is a private citizen and resident of the Atlantic Coastal Bays watershed.

    Seven individuals, who are ex officio members, who are the Secretaries of the following State Departments or their designee:

  • Department of Agriculture;
  • Department of Business and Economic Development;
  • Department of Housing and Community Development;
  • Department of the Environment;
  • Department of Transportation;
  • Department of Natural Resources;
  • Department of Planning.
  • Terms of the Commission Members


    Except for the Chairman and ex officio State officers or their designees, the term of a Commission member is four years. A member may serve no more than two terms. The terms are staggered, and at the end of a member's term, he or she continues to serve until a successor is appointed and qualifies. If a vacancy arises, other than through expiration of a term, the Governor shall appoint a successor of like qualification, with the advice and consent of the Senate, within 30 days.