The Builders for the Bay program, which will bring together environmental scientists, public officials, and builders for a series of 12 site-planning roundtables in Chesapeake Bay watershed communities, is making some headway.

The program, launched two years ago, is a coalition formed by the NAHB, the Center for Watershed Protection, and the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. The first two roundtables were held last year in Harford County, Md., and the Paxton Creek Watershed in Pennsylvania. Two more are planned for this year in James City County, Va., and parts of Lancaster County, Pa.

"Very rarely do all the stakeholders in the watershed sit down and look for where they have some common ground," says Pat Devlin, director of information and outreach for the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. "The goal is to help meet local government's obligation to control stormwater and direct smart growth in the proper fashion."

The pace of development is a major concern in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, which spans from Cooperstown, N.Y., to Hampton Roads, Va. The region's population grew 28 percent from 1970 to 1997, according to the Chesapeake Bay Program, the federal-state partnership that manages the Bay's restoration. The group says by 2020, 18 million people will live in the region, leading to sprawl, which the Program now ranks as one of the top threats to the Bay's recovery.

Some of the recommendations from the first two roundtables that are being worked into local development codes include using open vegetation swales instead of curbs and gutters to treat stormwater, and planting sycamore, dogwood, and other trees to protect streams.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Lancaster, PA.