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Advocates Plan Sept. 17 Rally Against Waterfront Mega-Development

Four seasons map (brighter)Here’s an invitation to everyone who cares about the Chesapeake Bay:  Please help us defeat a massive, ill-conceived waterfront development project on Kent Island that will blacktop farm fields and create more runoff pollution into the Bay.
 
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is urging everyone to turn out at 7 p.m. on Tuesday (September 17) for a meeting of the Queen Anne’s County Commission at Kent Island High School, 671 Romancoke Road in Stevensville, Maryland. 
 
Bring signs, banners, and voices opposing the proposed Four Seasons project. Why?  Because the development would mean more suburban sprawl and traffic jams on an already crowded and fragile island.  Please email CBF organizer Bess Trout btrout@cbf.org to let her know you can attend.  She’ll be in touch with you with more information. You can also click here to learn more.
 
Here’s the background:  For more than a decade, New Jersey-based developer Hovnanian Enterprises has been trying to build more than 1,000 houses and condominiums in an environmentally critical waterfront area near the mouth of the Chester River, north of Route 50 in Stevensville.

Four seasons site 3It’s a terrible location to build what is, in essence, a new suburb of exurbia. The 425 acres (shown at right) on which the developer wants to build the massive project are vulnerable to current flooding during heavy rains, and face more storm surges and worse flooding as sea levels rise.   Worse yet, the project’s driveways, roads, and rooftops would add more runoff pollution into the Bay at a time when EPA pollution limits and the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint  require a reduction in pollution.
 
Hovnanian Enterprises claims that they will be vigilant in controlling runoff pollution. But this is doubtful, given that the same company was forced to pay a $1 million fine to EPA three years ago because of stormwater violations at 591 development sites, including 161 in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, according to the federal agency.
 
The sprawling project would be one of the largest subdivisions ever built within 1,000 feet of a Chesapeake Bay tributary since the 1984 passage of the Maryland’s Critical Areas law, which was meant to protect sensitive waterfront areas like this.   This is the wrong place and the wrong time for more sprawl and blacktop. 
 
Please join us on Tuesday and tell the Queen Anne’s County Commission:  Say ‘No’ to the Four Seasons!  Say ‘Yes’ to a healthy Kent Island and Chesapeake Bay!

By Tom Pelton

Chesapeake Bay Foundation

 

Comments

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The corporate developers go into an area, destroy it and take off afterwards with millions of dollars... As a result the state and local taxpayers are left with the ramifications of stormwater runoff and more pollution of Bay. The blue crab population is already at record lows, primarily because of stormwater runoff from the thousands of waterfront residential and commercial development. This ne mega development will only exacerbate this problem and cost the taxpayers billions of dollars in the future. How sad that developers are allowed to run roughshod over the state and local residents for one reason only - $$$$$$$$

I agree 100 percent, Cheryl. Projects like this financially benefit a handful of people -- the developer and his allies -- and create burdens for many more, including taxpayers and other local residents who suffer from worse traffic, more sprawl, and a lower quality of life.

Good public policy should be based on helping the many, not the few.

I have been receiving your daily blog for about a year now and have appreciated your insight and perspectives in reference to our great body of water. However after reading several blogs attempting to put the kabosh on development, I have this to offer:
If this land is zoned properly and the development process and regulations are adhered to , public outcry has little impact on what is allowed by rights of law. We have seen this to be true in the past and I hardly expect that to change. You can't stop allowable progress.
I believe that the scenarios presented in this and other blogs about this development and there horrors can be thwarted by increased monitoring and enforcement by local and state authorities. The current stromwater management regulations and requirement s are designed to limit the impacts to the environment IF implemented and enforced responsibly. Both local and state law provides for this power and seldom applied. We should have the public out cry when local and state authorities slash environmental budget and reduce staff making it impossible to regulate and enforce the very rules,regulations,permit requirements and enforcement capabilities already available to make greater results.
Jack

Well, I certainly agree with you on one point, Jack. It is an outrage when state and local governments cut the budgets of environmental agencies and local planning offices so that they can't even enforce the (relatively week) laws on the books. We should sound the alarm more often when our government oversight is crippled.

In the case of the Four Seasons, not all of the approvals have yet been granted by the state and local governments, so it is not too late to raise objections. For example, the state Board of Public Works must still approve a permit to allow for destruction of wetlands for the development. And the county government may have to re-approve the plans for the project, because the developer has changed them. So there is more opportunity for public input.

In general,I'm not opposed to development. For example, building or rebuilding in empty lots and structures in Baltimore, and other cities and towns, I think is extremely important. Development in community centers is a good thing. But building 1,000 homes on a flood-prone farm field next to a Bay tributary does not make any sense.

Tom,
I am glad to see you respond. I also agree with you on destruction of wetlands as being tabo. However your original blog focused on pollution and runoff , not destruction of wetlands. Utilizing this type of rhetoric to enforce your cause is only presenting 1/2 truths. As a member of your Foundation, I expect to read the whole truth.
The state of Maryland's current stormwater management quantity and quality regulations are very adequate in reducing runoff and pollution.They are also backed by strong state and federal
laws. In fact Maryland has been leaders and forerunners for the new EPA initiatives to clean up the bay through watershed restoration. I would encourage you to become re acquainted with your state regulation and regulators. The true power behind the effort of which we both desire(clean up the Bay)lies in the enforcement of the laws in place.
This developer has a long road to plow, and the regulating state and federal agencies should act responsibly to defend the natural buffers required to filter "our" progress. These are the ones that should be rallied!
Finally, living next to the Bay is a joy, only those who have not, seek to limit all.

Thanks, Jack. I am well aware of the state and federal regulations regarding runoff pollution, and that is why I oppose this project.

Unfortunately, Four Seasons was approved by Queen Anne's County 11 years ago -- before EPA in December 2010 created the runoff pollution limits for the Bay region called the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) (which is also called the Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blueprint.)

So this project's parking lots and roads would add a lot more runoff pollution into a Bay tributary at exactly the time when we're supposed to reducing that runoff pollution to meet the Bay TMDL (the Clean Water Blueprint).

The fact that the developers received their approval from the county before EPA created the pollution limits doesn't mean that Four Seasons would be good for the Bay. Quite the opposite.

Fortunately, there are still more decisions and approvals that need to be made by the county and state governments before this ill-conceived project can move forward. I hope it does not.

The Bay and Kent Island would both be healthier if this land remained fields and forests, not blacktop and sprawl.

Fair enough Tom
I've spent my entire career working for developers and creating urban infrastructure. Now I'm working diligently to help clean up the mistakes of past development/construction and design mis- implementation. My passion and desire is that each and every one of us work towards a better Bay.
Hope that my thoughts and comments were received with an open mind.
Jack
swmaintenance.com

Thanks, Jack. I'm glad you are doing the important work you do, and I'm reassured that we have the same goal.

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