Stark Raving Beauty
Diving Into a Privy

Bulldoze This Insult to the Chesapeake Bay

DarrylwagnershouseMemo to the Anne Arundel County, Maryland, government:

Stop ignoring the law and bulldoze this house, on Little Island in the Magothy River. Flatten it, ASAP. Demolish the cheesy faux lighthouse. Uproot the fake palm trees. Replace the manicured lawn and wall of rocks with the natural trees and grasses that filtered the water before developer Daryl Wagner built this monstrosity without permits almost a decade ago.

If he steps outside to ask you why you're swinging a wrecking ball at his palace, tell him: For the sake of peace, justice and the Chesapeake Bay. His mansion is an insult to the basic concept of legal protections for the Bay.

Wealthy landowners like Wagner should not be allowed to simply pay small fines as a cost of doing business, but then continue to live in the homes they build in blatant violation of Maryland's Critical Areas laws, which are designed to protect waterfront zones from blacktop and chainsaws.

Beforedarrylwagnershouse To get a sense of the trees, beach and landscape that were lost to Wagner's monument, take a look at the picture at right. That's what it looked like before the construction.

Yes, Wagner was fined $40,000 for not following the rules. But in cases like these, builders like Wagner should pay a more serious price than just fines: They should lose the fruit of their arrogance.  They should lose the homes they build illegally.

The legal war over Wagner's castle has been going on for years, since Anne Arundel County sued Wagner in 2004. Wagner belatedly sought variances for his construction.  The country granted the variances after the fact and ruled that Wagner was entitled to keep his home. 

The county never fined Wagner a dime.  But the Maryland Department of the Environment and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in January fined Wagner $40,000 for wetlands violations on the island, as part of a consent agreement.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Magothy River Association challenged the county's decision to grant Wagner's variances, arguing that the integrity of the Critical Areas laws must be respected. That case, seeking demolition of the home, is still in court.

The Maryland General Assembly in 2008 passed a law intended to prevent any Wagner-like antics by builders in the future. The law says anyone caught violating Critical Areas laws must tear down their structures or fix the damage before they can seek a variance. The Maryland Critical Areas Commission sued Wagner under this law.

But then last week, the Court of Appeals dismissed this lawsuit, saying the new law cannot be applied retroactively to Wagner.

In an Annapolis Capital article about last week's legal action, Anne Arundel County officials gave the impression that the county is actively pursuing legal action to level the house.  But this is misleading. In fact, the county is supporting Wagner's attempts to win construction variances, which would undermine attempts by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and our allies to demolish his home.

The county should get out of the way and let the bulldozers of justice roll.

Think about it.  Why is it that Maryland is cracking down hard on people of humble income -- such as oystermen -- who violate natural resources laws, while allowing well-heeled builders who break the rules to keep their paychecks and homes?

I'm not saying that the government should not crack down on oyster poachers.  It should, so that they don't steal from honest watermen and undermine Bay restoration efforts.  But the government should aim a proportionate amount of enforcement zeal at the gents standing on their white porches high above the docks, looking down at the guys in the workboats.

Fair is fair.  You violate an oyster sanctuary, you lose not only your ill-gotten oysters but also your oystering license.  You build a mansion in violation of Critical Areas laws, you should lose your license to build... and your mansion.

Let the wrecking ball fly.

By Tom Pelton

Chesapeake Bay Foundation






 




 

Comments

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Mr. Wagner, tear down this house!

What more can one say? AA County should do it's job and send in the wrecking crew!

How did he get contractors out to the property without permits. I don't understand how he could not be stopped. Someone in the AA government turned their head on this one. This is the second time I have heard about developers taking land and doing what they wish to it. A house was built on another island in the bay for hunting. That too is still standing. Arrogant people who do not care about anything but themselves. I just don't understand how these house's could be developed. If I were to do something like that rest assure it would be stopped. Destroy this tacky piece of wood, that lighthouse is simply insulting to those sailors and fishermen who have died on the bay. What more can I say but to turn my head while shaking it amazed that people got away with this.

We received 53 comments on CBF's Facebook site about this Bay Daily article, all of them in favor of demolishing the house or evicting Wagner and using the property for the public good.

Here are the responses:

* Jack Dutton: open it up for the public to rent for weddings and special events and let the profits do something good for the bay !

* Gary Winstanley: I'm with Jack D.....I believe there is a law in every state called "right of eminent domain".....use it....take it.....he should know the laws better than anyone....what a jerk :)

* Vivian Dokmejewen Crayton: I'm with Jack. Even if you tear it down and replant everything, the damage is done at this point. It should be rented out and all proceeds should go to legal battles for the Bay.

* Crayton Gary: he just figured that he'd get away with it if he'd already done it. Um, no!

* Keith Remmey: contolled demolition comes to mind. Hmmm

* Andrew Shotwell: what part of illegal don't you understand

* Carl Shirley: Convert the building into a shelter for battered women and their children.

* Joyce Barkley: I agree with Judy and Jack. It's already there, so lets use it to benefit the Bay. And make sure this guy pays for all the negative impacts he caused!

* Jeff Kane: Sounds like someone in the local gov got paid-off to let this fly.

* Paul Dery: tear it down...at his expense

* Christina Hedrick Collins: If the law for oystermen is that they lose their license, then he should also lose his. Better to ask forgiveness than permission is hardly acceptable in cases such as this.

Remove him as the owner, use the building to provide a positive im pact to the area through rental funding and make an example out of Wagner so other people with more money than common sense don't try pulling the same stunt again.

* Christina Stenchly Mohs: Jack, I love it--great idea! The Magothy River Association has been fighting this for years.

* Betty Burchett: Make an example out of him...tear it down and restore the land...make him bear all the costs.

* Futch Siersema: He paid to have the wetlands there destroyed and he paid to have that home built all while thumbing his nose at the law and everyone who loves the Chesapeake Bay. In turn, he should pay to have the eyesore demolished and pay to have the land restored while we thumb our noses at him.

* Kevin Reed: Jack's got a good idea. It could be decorated with art from local artists celebrating the bay. Would need a caretaker, probably, but there are folks who would do it for free, writers, retired folks, maybe a family or something, etc. Could also rent out rooms to writers and artists and set up a few contract boats to ferry people back and forth. Could also do small business gatherings/ retreats there. It would be great to have info on sustainable business there, and detail how you got the house and why it was taken away too.

* Betty Burchett: HOW did it escape the attention of the local government that he was building it in the first place??? Someone needs to pay consequences...

* Robbin Love: I would support one of these two options based on whichever would exact the least harm overall to the environment:

1. Evict Wagner, convert the house into a nature center, and restore the land as much as possible - all at Wagner's expense.
2.... Tear it down and restore the land - again, at Wagner's expense.

* Barb Birsit: People have been talking about building on the island for years. AND their were always restrictions, laws etc. So what local official did he pay off to look the other way????

* Polly Milliner Ransone: Off with his head!

* Randy Causey: Agree with the Caretaker Option! Utilize the facility that's already there. Emminant Domain! I'm certain The Bay operations could benefit from a pre-existing facility. Tell the builder to "just go away" (or face penalties).

* Jeff Kane: It didn't escape the attention of local gov, I can at least guarantee that. Someone or a few people got PAID. How did he get utilities without a permit? Did he build it in 1 day, overnight? Local gov in action. Oh yeah just build it, we will deal with zoning later.

* Judy Furlow: I agree with Jeff, how does something like this happen?! This certainly isn't the first or last time that money talks and scumbags build!

* Will Hatcher: My guess is that this happens all the time around the bay. Should we make tearing down buildings like this a retroactive action as well? If this is the case then port isobel island (and the houses on it) may need to be reconsidered... i'm only speculating here folks but lets not get hypocritical in our opinions OR our actions...

* Betty Burchett: WE HAVE TO DRAW THE LINE SOMEWHERE, SOMETIME!!! Start now!!!

* Glenn Johnson: hmmm.....surprise surprise in md? make it a gift to grant a wish kids in catonsville

* Pete Dorman: Jeff - no utilities on the island

* Christopher Tracey: Seconding that he should know the law...

* Stephen Cherry: Tear em all down, maybe make the homes in AA co a little more affordable for the majority of mere average incomed people. The damned million dollar eyesores have seriously artificially warped housing prices, and overcrowded our already strained schools, not to mention required complete overhauls of roadways which are still regularly congested. We just don't need more homes here, let alone ones that totally detract from the beauty that has steadily been chopped down along the bay since I've been born.

* Scott Ventura: Tax it progressivly to the point that he loses it. Have the state take over and run a bed and breakfast or non profit meeting center. It is already built so, look at it as if it were a Dupont eatate left to charity.

* Tom S.: Pull his occupancy permit, if one was ever given, and then evict him. He won't be able to sell it or rent it or live there until he makes it compliant with all regulations.

* Kristina Parker Burris: I say tear it down and make him pay to restore the lost wetland habit. One major problem our bay has is the loss of wetlands.

* Mark Alan Larson: What are the point of laws if we don't enforce them. The owner gambled and lost. Make them take it down to a point that would have been permittable, pay to restore as much as possible, then fine to create compensating wetland elsewhere. Developers who remove wetlands legally with consent of Army COE must often replace elsewhere at twice the area because the new wetland is not as effective as existing.

* Jane Elizabeth Abbott: No using it for whatever reason. It will only continue to negatively impact the enviro. He should assume all costs to remove this illegal structure, plus whatever is needed to start the parcel on the road to recovery. PLUS, a substantial fine. grrrrr

* Therese Erigo: Should be forced to donate it as a wildlife education center or some other public building, he'll get enough tax relief to pay for materials and labor but won't be able to profit from it. Should also be forced to restore as much habitat as possible to original condition

* Chris O'Brien: I'm all for beautiful houses on beautiful sites, but where's the gasoline? This Piggy's house is gonna burn!

* Althea Hodson: We've anchored by that horribly gaudy place several times. It really does ruin an otherwise pleasant view!

* Deirdre Stevens-Ownby: bye bye, baby... bye bye

* Mary Beth: tearing it down would cause more harm than good, it should be turned into an educational center for Chesapeake Bay foundation where reallly rich people and really poor people can go and see what is being destroyed to please our own appetites.

* Bonnie Wright: Tear it down.

* Robert Tufts: Everyone keeps asking how did this happen? Two words for you

JANET OWENS

And to make it worse, this guy was a builder/contractor. So he KNEW he was breaking the law.

* Dan Haas: Just make sure he keeps all of his licenses to continue to earn a living as a developer in our state. Yeah, that should show him!

Laws surrounding pollution and the bay will continue to be laughed at by those who ignore them... developers a...nd politicians alike.

When is the bay's funeral? I want to be sure to take off work that day to pay my respects.

* Nicole Luton: It should be turned into an education center for CBF, at his expense. He should definately not be allowed to live there.

* Cynthia Wood: Happened in MD along the Potomac river in designated protected land. Hah, Redsking owner Dan Snyder got away with cutting down massive amounts of trees between his house and the upper Potomac near the American Legion Bridge.
In Laurel, a developer was allowed to desimate all the trees on the property and to bring in hundreds of truck loads of dirt to build up an area on the Patuxent to build his manse.
The wealthy are differnt from you and me.
If you are a poor sap, you are forced to follow the law and often at great expense.
These people know what they are doing and so do the zoning officials.They only go after people who have no influence and funds ,as in the corrupt" Republic of Fairfax",especially when they are trying to steal your land.

* Yun Wang: reminds me of the folks that pour chlorine in their backyards to kill the trees for a better waterfront view... I want this house bulldozed an the aff hole fined.

* Justin Rose: This guy is probably some rich snob from Jersey, Philly, or New York. I say Tear it down and kick him back over the north of the Mason Dixon line and ban him frm the state.

* Jay Falstad: Drill a bunch of 1 3/4 inch holes on each outside wall and allow it to become the world's largest Purple Martin House. Heaven knows we need help with the mosquitos!

* Helen Brennan: This guy is from Maryland and is a big contractor and certainly knew better. Tear it down and have him pay to restore the property to the condition it was before it was built on!

* Bambi Hill: tired of people thinking they can just ignore why we have these laws to protect the wetlands. KICK HIM OUT MAKE SURE ITS SAFE AND TURN IT INTO A HEADQUARTER FOR ENVIROMENTAL REASARCH AND A PLACE FOR VOLUNTEERS TO STAY WHILE HELPING THE WETLANDS

* Art Ross: tear down, is he above the law..!

* Cj Gray: How is keeping the property and using it for public events any different than allowing him to live in it? I agree that it should be removed and the much needed wetlands restored at his expense and prosecuted/loss of contractors license. Retroactive tear downs? Uh - yeah, maybe that's not such a bad idea. But guess what - none of this will happen and I wouldn't be surprised if he were allowed to keep the property or profit from it in some way.

* Chesapeake Bay Foundation: To answer some of these questions from readers, no, Wagner does not have a certificate of occupancy yet he continues to live there. Anne Arundel County has never certified the septic system for his pier house. CBF asked the county attorney about evicting him, and we were told that the county believes it would be too hard. We think he's getting off easy. What do you think?

Evict this miserable excuse for a human being, make him pay an enormous fine, and then go after the crooks that undoubtably received tons of money to "look the other way" so he could get this monstrosity built. BRING DOWN THE HAMMER....NOW!!

In order to Google this scum and get the whole story, you have to spell his name spelled correctly. It is Daryl with one r, not two. Then you will get lots of information on Daryl Cecil Wagner and his company, DCW Dutchship Island LLC. You can see all related news and court activities. Enjoy reading!

"you have to spell his name spelled correctly" Sorry, I got excited by my search results :)

I agree, it should be used for the public good.

I grew up spending summer's on the Little Island. The 50's - early 70's. It was a place to enjoy nature. My Dad helped to maintain it. It's a shame the original island has been destroyed. The best memories of my childhood.

The real shame is all of the angry people who have no idea what they're talking about. "The Island has been 'DESTROYED!' " Little Island has been eroding away for decades at a substantial rate. The stone perimeter that Daryl Wagner put up 15 years ago is the only reason that stopped. The island would be gone by 2045 otherwise.

Don't get me wrong, his actions were incredibly arrogant, but I'd rather see the island there in the future than to have been lost to erosion.

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