The New
QAC Sentinel Whispers
Blogging Queen Anne's County
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed it's the only thing that ever has."

Margaret Mead
Cartoons provided by Bruce Wakefield with the kindness of The Record Observer and the citizen's who wish to save the natural beauty of "our home "
in QAC
thegatekeeper@sentinelwhispers.com
 

This is a joint project of:

The Kent Island Defense League

The Citizens for Greater Centreville.

The Sentinel Whispers

The Friends of Queenstown

The Kent Island News

The Eastern Shore Land Conservancy

Keep checking on the above sites.
Check your own town by all means but check all the others as well because whatever is happening there will or is happening where you live.

If you want to keep what you have you have to fight for it !
If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem!

GET INVOLVED !
Join one of the groups above

thegatekeeper@sentinelwhispers.com

"The towns still are a focus spot for growth," said Queenstown Town Commissioner Mitch Keiler.

Keiler said there are "overtures" from a developer to provide county sewer service to three properties in the Queenstown growth area - the unincorporated area outside town - by running a force main from the Kent Narrows Stevensville Grasonville (KNSG) sewage treatment plant on Kent Island to Queenstown. When Keiler asked if the county was considering this proposal, the county commissioners indicated they weren't.

2006 County Elections
www.dump-the-three.com
QAC Commissioners’ Report Card as of May 20, 2004

Comments welcome:
email :administrator@dump-the-three.com

Daniel Valentine is  staff writer for the Capital Gazette. It seems that the editorial staff have come to the conclusion that they have not spent enough "copy" on
Queen Anne's county, particularly Kent Island. He would welcome comment by you writing to him at :

DValentine@capitalgazette.com or calling 410-280-5932

...............................................................................................................................................................

ALL NEW TOPICS WILL BE AT
THE TOP OF THE PAGE

Was He Pushed Or Did He Jump ??

TOWN OF CENTREVILLE

NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING

The Town Council of Centreville will convene a public hearing on February 8, 2006 at 7:00 PM at the Goodwill Volunteer Fire Company, 212 Broadway, Centreville, MD to consider whether Daniel B. Worth should be removed form the Planning Commission for alleged malfeasance in office.  This hearing shall be held in accordance with Article 66B, §3.02.(e) of the Annotated Code of Maryland as it relates to the removal of Planning Commission members from office.  The hearing shall be open to the public and individuals who wish to testify should appear and register no later than 7:00PM.

Feb 1st

Development Plans Overlap Wildlife Refuge Area
Lawmakers Sound Off On Locally-Approved Plans

ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Some lawmakers statewide are at odds over a locally-approved development planned near critical wildlife areas.

WBAL-TV 11 News reporter John Sherman reported that he Dorchester County Council has already approved the Blackwater Resort plans in Cambridge.

Sherman said the fight, in part, has made its way from the Eastern Shore to the state Senate.

"Dorchester County deserves to grow, too," said Eastern Shore Sen. Richard Colburn, R-District 37, whose district includes Dorchester County.

The plans call for 3,200 homes, a hotel, a conference center, a golf course and a shopping center. About 200 acres of the 1,000-acre plan sits near a federally-protected refuge designated as a critical area.

"It's not a done deal. I think if we get enough people out there to show the local government that this is a bad idea, we can turn this thing around," said U.S. Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, R-District 1.

Baltimore County Sen. James Brochin, D-District 42, has introduced legislation in the Senate to block the golf course.

"I'm concerned that the runoff is going to contaminate the refuge, which is not just Dorchester County's treasure, it's Baltimore County's treasure and it's the state of Maryland's treasure," Brochin said.

"I think people in Baltimore County need to worry about Baltimore County," Colburn said.

"This is a lot of people's back yard, it's not just Sen. Colburn's back yard, it's the back yard of thousands of people that live in this region that want Blackwater to be a pristine wildlife refuge and don't want all the storm water and sewer problems that this massive development is going to create," Gilchrest said.

Sherman reported the next step for the project is passage through the Cambridge City Council. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has also come out in strong opposition of the project.

Cecil panel changes water plan; 300-home development possible
By Justin Fenton
sun reporter
February 1, 2006

Rising Sun -- The Cecil County Board of Commissioners voted, 3-2, last night to amend the county sewer and water plan, in a step toward permitting development of a controversial 300-home development and golf course north of Elkton.

About 150 people attended the board meeting at Rising Sun High School - most of them to voice opposition to the plan. Residents have protested the Aston Pointe project for more than a year, saying it would set a dangerous precedent and accelerate growth in the rural county while diverting water from residents.

"All I want to do is find out what MDE [the Maryland Department of the Environment] has to say," said board President Nelson K. Bolender. "They've told us it must be part of the plan for them to give us an opinion."

Residents said inclusion of the project in the county's water and sewer plan would create a strain on services and pave the way for similar projects. Many wore stickers reminding the commissioners of this fall's election.

"An approval tonight will set the legal base for more development all around Aston Pointe," said Elkton resident Richard Boyce, 66, who said he has lived in the county for 37 years.

Officials of Newark, Del.-based Aston Development Group Inc. told the commissioners that it needed approval of the amendment in order to have a state environmental agency test water capacity and determine if the project is feasible.

They presented a Jan. 27 letter in which an official of the state Department of the Environment confirmed that a heavy caseload has limited its oversight to projects included in county water and sewer plans.

The letter also states that inclusion in the plan would not commit the county to serve the area with public water.

The golf course would be the new site for the Newark Country Club, which is hoping to move from Delaware.

The commissioners have twice rejected the water and sewer amendment, which in its third round received approval from the county planning commission in mid-January.

justin.fenton@baltsun.com

By Justin Fenton
sun reporter
Click here to subscribe: The Baltimore Sun

CENTREVILLE - An open meetings complaint has been filed against the Town of Centreville.

The complaint filed by town resident and Planning Commission Member Dan Worth Jan. 9 alleges that the town failed to provide minutes of meetings in a timely manner, gave inadequate reasons for closed session meetings, did not generate minutes for closed session meetings in a timely manner, and discussions of a quorum of officials continued during breaks.

"We received the letter from the Open Meetings Act Compliance Board and are in the process of investigating," said Town Manager Royden N. Powell III.

In his letter to the compliance board, Worth said he went to town hall to request the minutes of all meetings held since May 18, 2005. "I was informed that regular meeting minutes were available, but the minutes of the work sessions were not due to a lack of staff," he said.

The letter lists 10 work session dates in 2005, including May 23, June 13, June 20, Aug., Aug. 29, Oct. 5, Oct. 19, Nov. 2, Nov. 30, and Dec. 14. He also said the town did not produce minutes for their June 15 Constant Yield Hearing or its June 23 Budget Hearing.

The town also did not produce minutes for 13 closed session meetings, said Worth in his letter. The dates include Jn. 6, Jan. 20, Feb. 3, Feb. 14, Feb. 17, March 2, March 3, April 25, May 19, June 16, July 14, Sept. 12, and Nov. 3.

The town has until Feb. 18 to respond to the compliance board letter.

Could this be the reason why Donna Turner's is asking for Dan Worth to resign from the Planning Committee .

REVENGE !!
( No,no that can't be so. That would make it a Political Matter rather than an Ethical Matter. )



ETHICS MATTERS UPDATE #4.

Financial Disclosure Forms

Ethics Matters is pleased to report that the financial disclosure requirements of the ethics law are now back on the road to being implemented.  Ethics Matters’ attorney Stephen Sachs wrote County Attorney Patrick Thompson expressing Ethics Matters’ belief that the County had improperly distributed obsolete financial disclosure forms and had not met the legal requirements of the new law. (See Sachs letter to Thompson re financial disclosure in Documents at www.ethicsmattersinc.org.)  Subsequently, the County Ethics Commission voted last week to distribute a financial disclosure form that carries out the requirements of the current ethics law.

The new disclosure form will be distributed following a 14 day public comment period.  The deadline for completion of the financial disclosure form has been extended to April 10.  You can view the proposed form at the Ethics Commissions website on the County website (www.qac.org.)..

There are still some problems with the financial disclosure form as posted on the County website.  Ethics Matters has submitted comments to the Ethics Commission pointing out them out.   Below is a summary of the problems.  (For a complete account, see Ethics Matters’ comments on financial disclosure form under Documents at www.ethicsmattersinc.org.)

(1)  There are a number of key words and phrases used in the disclosure form that have a special meaning in the context of the Ethics code.  They are carefully defined in the definition section of the code.  But the definitions are not provided as part of the financial disclosure form.  This lack of information is sure to cause filers to omit required information, which defeats the purpose of financial disclosure – accountability to the public -- and subjects officials/employees to complaints for non-disclosure.

(2)  Unfortunately, in the one instance where the form seems to provide a definition, it misleadingly provides only a partial definition and so invites evasion of the disclosure required by law.  The form states that “reportable real estate holdings or interests include those held individually, jointly, in partnership or corporately,” omitting the rest of the definition, including “directly or indirectly.”  This is a serious omission that could invite evasion of the disclosure required by the law.  For example, a person filing the form might take the position that he does not need to report an ownership interest in a parent corporation whose subsidiary owns real estate in the County, claiming that he does not “individually, jointly, in partnership, or corporately “own real estate in the County, inasmuch as the only corporation he has an interest in is not itself an owner of County real estate.  It should be made clear, by providing the complete definition, that ownership interests held “indirectly” must be disclosed as required by law.

(3)  A third problem with the disclosure form is its expansion of the code’s provision requiring disclosure of “any office, directorship, partnership, or salaried employment in any business entity” held by an official/employee or spouse.  The form expands this to include such positions held by a family member in the household.  While this may be a good idea, the form cannot add requirements that are not written in the law it is implementing.  Perhaps the Ethics Commission may want to suggest this expansion of accountability as one of the amendments to the new law.

Ethics Standards for Planning and Zoning Boards

            Ethics Matters gave testimony in support of Del. Smigiel’s bill, HB 85, to establish a “Task Force to Create Standards of Ethics for Planning and Zoning Boards.”  You can read the testimony in Documents at www.ethicsmattersinc.org.
 

Jan 31st

You see how difficult it is to be heard !!

Unpublished Letter to Record-Observer

My first thought after reading Donna Turner’s request for Dan Worth’s resignation in the Record Observer on Friday, January 20th was “you must be kidding?” The article had greater coverage than a far more important article with regards to the resignation of the Town Manager.

Ms. Turner contends that her outcry for the dismissal of Mr. Worth from the planning commission is in no way politically motivated, but what else could it be? Where was Ms. Turner’s outcry and request to have Mr. Pinder removed from office when he was found to have misused a club’s bulk mailing permit for his political campaign. Why such a hullabaloo now, unless it has political ramifications?

In the long run, who really cares? This isn’t high school, and the incident is a blimp, a pimple in the scope of things. There are far bigger issues facing this town, and the individuals who reside here, and this did not warrant the coverage or subsequent outcry it has received. It should have been handled in private.

Mr. Worth’s actions were stupid, infantile and most certainly un worthy (no pun intended) of him and very hurtful to Ms. Turner. However, a session of hashing it out in private might have been far better for all concerned, then the use of the news media for whatever motive Ms. Turner intended, political or otherwise. If we are all to believe that the news media is a tool to be used for venting our personal pain, then we might as well stand in line outside THE OBSERVER, and have them publish a list of each of our woes and humiliations weekly. Mr. Worth was most certainly wrong in what he did, but why use a public forum to “get back” if there isn’t some hidden motive. It smacks of tit for tat, and makes Ms. Turner’s actions no better in the end.

Neither Mr. Worth’s insensitive E-mail nor Ms. Turner’s wrath (which is what it is) are really worthy of front page news. This is material for STAR magazine, not a paper that is supposed to publish non-bias, interesting and “news worthy” articles. The only worthiness of the article I can see is to line a birdcage, and I don’t even have a bird. Anyone need my copy?

Mary A. James
Centreville

Believe me " The Fat Lady " hasn't even stood up yet let alone started singing !

CENTREVILLE MEETINGS

- There will be a Town Council work session on Wednesday, February 1st at 4:00 pm in the Town Hall.
- Work continues on Centreville's Comprehensive/Community Plan on Wednesday February 1st at 7:00 pm at the Queen Anne's County Planning and Zoning Office Meeting Room, 160 Coursevall Drive.  This particular meeting will present proposed changes to Chapter 3 and there will be a presentation about Water and Sewer infrastructure from URS (the Town's engineer).

- The next Town Council meeting is Thursday, February 2nd at 7:00 pm in the Town Hall.

NEWS (additional details on the CGC website http://cgc.centreville-md.net)

- Judge Ross's Opinion on the Wharf Appeal has been posted.

- Kurt Babe's Comments at the County Water & Sewer Hearing are now available.

- A CGC Membership Form is now available (attached).

- The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) begins the public review and comment period for the draft "Maryland's 2006 List of Impaired Surface Waters [303(d) List] and Integrated Assessment of Water Quality."

- Bob Griffith's Complaint filed with the US Dept. of Labor (DOL), the Town's response and the DOL's response to the Freedom of Information Act request are now available.  All of the documents associated with this case are now posted.

CGC Membership Form ( click here )
 

Unicorn Lake
( response to the article By Pete Macinta, Daily Banner 0n Jan 30th )

It is very important for the citizens of Queen Anne's County to understand the significance of this story.  New Earth Services ran a compost facility in Dorchester County that was recently forced to cease operations.  For over a decade this company ignored environmental law which was documented by diligent field inspectors of the Maryland Department of the Environment.  Sadly, officials at the very top at MDE decided to ignore the clear evidence provided them by their own employees.  Ken Philbrick, MDE Secretary, and Jonas Jacobson , his Deputy Director took direct intervention and chose instead to protect the profits of this polluter.
After being contacted by concerned citizens living near this compost facility, I gathered information which easily confirmed disastrous violations of both state and federal environmental laws.  I took this information to our congressman, Wayne Gilchrest, who promptly got the Environmental Protection Agency involved.  With pressure from the EPA, and the help of the Baltimore NBC affiliate giving us television coverage, MDE finally attempted to penalize and close down the facility.  In actuality, the polluter was put out of business by the Dorchester county commissioners who refused to renew  their lease.
Here's the bad news for those of us living in Queen Anne's County.  This same polluter is attempting to put a rubblefill near Unicorn Lake and MDE has testified on their behalf.  Days Cove Reclamation is the principal investor in New Earth Services and owns at least 25% of the company.  Ken Binnix is the executive vice president of Days Cove Reclamation and has taken the lead role in the attempt to build the rubblefill. Ken Binnix is also the general manager of New Earth Services. The horrific news is that New Earth Services has filed for bankruptcy to avoid paying both the $50,000.00 fine levied by MDE, and the estimated $3,000,000.00 cost to clean up their site.  The citizens of Dorchester County are now apparently going to be stuck with the bill.
Many of the families living in close proximity to the compost site owned by NES and Days Cove Reclamation have experienced health problems and have contaminated wells.  This may be a direct result of over a decade of exposure to the pollution.  Because their surface water and groundwater have been contaminated, they have no assurance that their future will be any better.  Perhaps Ken Binnix, Ken Philbrick and Jonas Jacobson can reassure them.  And when they are done, perhaps they can try and reassure us that the citizens of our county will not receive the same treatment.
 

Sveinn C. Storm

.................................................................................................................................................................................................

Has anyone become aware of the proposed boat repair and adjacent storage site on Long Point Rd. Just off Rt. 50.  The home owners in this area are steaming and will hold a community meeting at the New Life Christian Outreach Church on Rt. 18 and Country Day Road in Chester on Wed Feb. 1 at 7:00 PM.
Lots of investigation has been performed by concerned home owners and Gene Ransome QAC Commissioner will attend to listen to discussions.
This proposed construction is infringing on wet lands and we believe permits have been approved in error.  The site has already had activity moving earth and changing contours in preparation for construction.  The site in question is now zoned UC, but has definitely become residential in recent years.  Homeowners are concerned about property values, road activity and misuse of wet lands.

Please direct comments to Jehmann@friend.ly.net

J Ehmann
 

Jan 30th

Citizens and agencies connect
By Pete Macinta, Daily Banner

HURLOCK - Congressman Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD) visited Hurlock Saturday to meet with north Dorchester citizens whose wells may have been adversely affected by the activities of New Earth Services.

Joining him were representatives from federal and state levels, and Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project Financial Services.
During this month's Maryland Association of Counties meeting in Cambridge, County Councilman David Yockey (District 4) had asked Congressman Gilchrest to visit Hurlock to speak with citizens about the issue.

Councilman Yockey said, "He's been very interested in what has been going on down here."

Congressman Gilchrest thanked Councilman Yockey "for his initiative in his effort in trying to nderstand the nature in the broad array of cleanup problems regarding the composting facility, New Earth Services.
 

"I assure you that my office and my staff is working with Dave to try to understand and get to the bottom of whether or not your wells have been, or could be, contaminated in any way from that recycling facility," he said.

He said, "We will make further inquiries with the County Health Department.

"We'll make inquiries with the U.S. Geological Survey to try to understand from a geological perspective which way the water moves away from this facility, how fast, deep and so on," he said.

He continued, "We have some people here today that can talk about dollars to help you retro-fit, or someway resolve, the issue of your well if it's tested with some contamination and, or, help you dig a new well which is a lot deeper."

Congressman Gilchrest said, "We're here to assist on a number of levels. To help connect you with someone that can finance to resolve the issue with your well. Number two, who's responsible for that contamination.

"I know there has been some discussion among some people about possibly the community hiring a lawyer, a class action lawsuit," he said. He added he was not sure how far the community had gotten in that matter and his office might be able to assist by giving advice.

"We're connected with this issue and we want to help you with it," he said.

Staff writer Pete Macinta can be reached at (410) 228-3132 ext. 15 or petemacinta@yahoo.com

Comment: Of course Church Hill's design standards are more stringent than Centreville's -- Centreville doesn't have any!
 

Church Hill / Wal-Mart's future uncertain
By TAMMY STAFFORD
Staff Writer
January 29, 2006

CHURCH HILL - Wal-Mart may not be coming to Church Hill, according to a property owner and developer interested in bringing the commercial retail giant here.

Plans for the possible site were dashed by a decision of the Church Hill Town Commission to cap the size of commercial buildings in the town at 60,000 square feet. Wal-Mart was looking for a site where a 180,000-square-foot building could be located.

During a special meeting Jan. 26, Town Commissioners Charles Rhodes, Michael Morris, and John Griffin voted unanimously to adopt the commercial design standards after making some amendments to the document.

The maximum footprint of the building, including the commercial space, cannot exceed 60,000 square feet. A building of that size is comparable to the Acme and Food Lion stores in Centreville, said Town Zoning Administrator Chris Jakubiak. Rhodes said the town does not have the sewer capacity for a 60,000-square-foot building at this time.

Church Hill resident Alan Weitzman of Pinder Hill Road said the document still has loopholes and he does not think the commissioners listened to the people who testified at the Jan. 19 meeting.

"The main thing is that I didn't hear anyone here say they wanted 60,000 square feet, but they did say that it was too large and it seems that the commission chose to ignore that," said Weitzman.

"I, too, am disappointed that the size is staying as large as it is," said Pinder Hill Road resident Barbara Faulkner.
Developer Mike Bozek, owner of the 34-acre property to the north of town, said Wal-Mart would not build in Church Hill based on the size standard. Bozek said he spent most of 2005 looking for commercial businesses to locate in the town. The only interested prospect was Wal-Mart.

"It was much bigger than what anyone wanted, but we had tried to find something similar to what Centreville has," in terms of commercial centers, Bozek said.

Wal-Mart never submitted a formal application with the town and did not have a contract on the 34-acre property.
Bozek said he will keep commercial possibilities in mind, but will not be actively pursuing them.

"Although we are not pursuing the commercial, we are open if one happens to open up, but we are not aware of any at this time," Bozek said.

He said Church Hill would be a central location for commercial business. The alternative, he said, is people can go to Wal-Marts in Easton or Denton or they will continue to shop in Delaware.

Meanwhile, he said he will turn his attention to the plan developed when the 34-acre property was annexed into the town in January 2005. The property is designated as a growth area in the town's comprehensive plan. It is also mapped as mixed use in the document.

"The 34 acres was predestined to be added to the town," said Bozek. The annexation of the 34 acres was a contingency on the sale of property Bozek owned behind Church Hill Elementary School to  Queen Anne's County because the school property contained 11 lots zoned commercial, said Bozek.

"Now that we have run out of options, we are back to what was originally laid out a year ago, and that's what we are going to pursue," said Bozek.

The plan approved in the annexation agreement shows the property mapped as one-third residential, one-third commercial, and one-third commercial/residential mixed use. The development plan for the property was put on hold to search for commercial businesses, he said.

Because of the lack of sewer and public water in the town, Bozek will have to work with the commissioners to see how to go about creating those services.

"The town has set really high standards with the design standards," said Bozek. "It's more stringent than Centreville. They've raised the bar pretty high."

The ordinance also was amended to include the requirement of a subdivision plat for buildings exceeding 40,000 square feet; buildings greater than 40,000 square feet are required to have more than one entrance; exterior lighting to prevent light pollution; and truck trailers are not permitted for storage uses.

Buildings exceeding 40,000 square feet are required to cover the town's cost of retaining an architect. The planning commission can, at its discretion, require a developer to pay for an architect for buildings less than 40,000 square feet.

The town received a lot of comment on the original proposed design standard of requiring a developer of a building more than 60,000 square feet to put $10,000 in an escrow account to pay for the town to retain an architect, said Jakubiak.

Residents gave a great deal of positive feedback on the maintenance and reuse section of the ordinance, but Jakubiak felt it should be expanded. Language was added to allow the town to have a building demolished at the cost of the owner if it sits vacant for more than 24 months.
"This is enforceable through procedures in the zoning ordinance," said Jakubiak.

Jan 29th

Two more statements from the Chester/Stevensville Community Plan Hearing.  You have until 4:00 February 7 to send in your comments:

QAC Planning Commissioners
160 Courseval Drive
Centreville, MD  21617

FAX # 410-758-2905




Testimony to QAC Planning Commission – 1/25/06
Chester/Stevensville Community Plan
Mary Kerr, Stevensville

Before I speak specifically to the Chester/Stevensville Community Plan, I would like to make some general remarks.
I think we would all agree that one of the most important issues facing the County today is development -- where, when, how much and what will it look like --.these are major issues.
And, if development is a major issue, that makes you gentlemen, sitting here tonight, some of the most influential men in the county.  You, as a Commission, have the authority to help to determine the developmental future of this County, and with that authority, gentlemen, comes responsibility.  You have a responsibility to consider the welfare of this County and the welfare of its citizens when you are making your decisions.
I have heard planning commissioners say that all they do is make sure that the zoning laws are followed.  This statement was made clearly false during the final site approval for Four Seasons, when you implicitly gave an exception to the zoning regulations by okaying 55 foot high buildings when the zoning regulations say no higher than 45 ft.  No matter how you felt about other pressures inherent in this final approval, you had the authority, you could have and you should have, at a minimum, denied theses 55ft. buildings.
The same authority and responsibility is present in your review of the specifics of this community plan.  Just like in Four Seasons, it is not a matter of all or nothing at all.  Many adjustments that would improve this present draft can, and should, be made.
Certainly I would urge you to seriously review all the suggestions and requests made tonight by KIDL, but I would like to give you two small illustrations of changes that would be very positive additions to the present draft.
First, move back into the main text of the plan the stipulation to have clear and objective methodologies to assess the transportation, environmental and fiscal impacts of development proposals.  The desperate need for this was again clearly illustrated at the Four Seasons hearing, when the traffic expert, paid by Four Seasons, stood before you with a straight face and told you that this development would not have a negative impact on traffic in the area.
Secondly, replace the stipulation to establish a citizen’s board to work with the Planning Commission and County Commissioners regarding the implementation of the Community Plan.
It is not in any way an exaggeration to say that the decisions made by this Commission will determine the future of this County, for good or for ill.  Please take personal responsibility to see that it for good.
 

Comments for the Planning Commission Hearing on the
Chester/Stevensville Community Plan
 January 25, 2006

I’m Jim Parker of Bay City, and a member of the Citizen’s Advisory Committee.

I believe, as the Kent Island Defense League does, that the Planning Commission has seriously changed and weakened many of the solutions and recommendations endorsed by the large majority of CAC members and by Kent Island citizens at the last community hearing in July 2004.  There are two points I want to emphasize tonight:
First, I believe that the recommendations calling for low-density lots,
clear and objective assessments of transportation, environmental and fiscal impacts, and establishment of a citizen’s board to assist in implementation of this Plan, must be returned to the main body of the Plan.   Otherwise, they certainly will be treated like any other appendix items, viewed merely as information or for reference only.
Second, there is, in the community, an assumption that this Commission has delayed the completion of the Plan (and this hearing) so that major residential development activities could be approved or at least initiated.   After all, it has been 15 months since the CAC delivered the report.   We were urged to finish our work on time, but that seems to be where the urgency stopped!  I don’t know if the delay was intentional (only you know that).  It does seem that many of our recommendations may well have influenced your decisions during that period, given half a chance.   This would have included the provision of oversight by the recommended citizen’s board.
Yet I think it’s time to get beyond assumptions:  Let’s put in the Appendix a detailed list of actions, related to CAC recommendations, that you have approved during the period from July 28, 2004 (the last public hearing) until now.   Only then can we begin to put behind us the suspicions and negative assumptions that have been generated by lack of action on this important Plan.

Thank you for your work to help Kent Island remain the wonderful place it is, and for hearing my concerns.
 

No shortage of conflict on Kent Island master plan
By DANIEL VALENTINE, Staff Writer
 

Nearly a year after it was supposed to be finished, a plan to shape growth
on Kent Island is still dragging on as residents and developers trade
charges and countercharges.

At Wednesday's public hearing on the Stevensville-Chester Master Plan, a
panel of citizens who wrote an early draft of the document accused the Queen
Anne's County Planning Commission of scaling back its recommendations to
reduce the size of growth areas near Route 50 and impose strict controls on
construction.

"The county has completely turned away from the advisory process," resident
Rich Altman told the room packed with developers, residents and politicians.

Mr. Altman and others accused planning officials of soft-pedalling their
recommendations, which included taking several areas above and below Route
50 out of consideration as potential development zones. They also protested
the commission's decision to place the resident committee's vision statement
at the back of the 1-inch booklet.

Members also railed against the commission for adding a new growth area on
the bay side of southern Route 8 directly below the Bay City community.

"The Planning Commission has either eliminated or watered down the solutions
to the problems we addressed," said Winn Krozak, president of the Kent
Island Defense League and a member of the volunteer panel. It began
reviewing the two communities' older, separate documents in early 2004;
updating and combining them was supposed to take six to eight months.

Its first draft called for dramatic reductions in growth, including slashing
the proposed Four Seasons retirement community from 1,350 to 400 homes and
eliminating the Ellendale and Gibson's Grant subdivision proposals.

But the 30-member panel of residents and developers' deliberations were
contentious. The two sides mistrusted one another so much that residents
insisted the sessions be videotaped.

By the time the committee turned over its recommendations to the commission
last spring, the group had split. Several more moderate members published
their own minority report in protest.

"There became an ideological imbalance, in favor of extreme anti-growth
sentiment," said Carl Zacarias, a lawyer representing a the proposed Kent
Manor Inn development on southern Route 8, which the citizens committee
removed as a potential growth area.

The Planning Commission upheld the advisory group's call to keep Kent Manor
Inn out of the growth areas, a move Mr. Zacarias and developer Alan Michaels
came out to protest last week.

Mr. Michaels hinted at the possibility of suing to allow the potential
450-unit development to move forward.

"It seems to be the only option the county understands," he said.

Planning Commission members plan to re-review the Stevensville and Chester
growth plan on Feb. 9. Once finished, they will turn the plan over to the
Board of County Commissioners for approval. Then it would be incorporated
into the county's master plan.

Since the plan is so far behind schedule, it will likely surface as an issue
in November, when all five commissioners face potential re-election amid
accusations that they have backed away from promises to limit residential
growth.

"Now it's an election issue," said Commissioner Michael Koval, R-Chester,
who served on the advisory panel.

Board President Joe Cupani, R-Church Hill, was feeling the pressure at the
meeting.

When asked whether he wished to comment on the plan, he said only, "I'll
pass."

dvalentine@capitalgazette.com

Click here to subscribe:The Capital, Annapolis, Md
 

Jan 28th

Barbs fly in the Senate over development bill
By Jill Rosen
Sun reporter
January 28, 2006
 

A day after Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. pleaded for legislative civility in
his State of the State address, a verbal smackdown broke out on the Senate
floor - hardly the resurgence of "good will" the governor was hoping for.

Sen. Richard F. Colburn, a Dorchester County Republican, aimed a tirade at
Baltimore County Democrat James Brochin, who sponsored an emergency bill
that could effectively quash a billion-dollar development in Colburn's
district.

In a verbal assault in which Colburn quoted Abraham Lincoln and Benjamin
Franklin and coaxed himself aloud to keep his cool, the senator berated
Brochin for the bill, which, he said, could cost Dorchester County a
desperately needed economic boost.

"I'm gonna try to remain calm. It's difficult to do," Colburn began at the
close of an otherwise mundane Senate session. "It's difficult to know if
local courtesy really exists anymore."

He continued: "I'm telling myself not to take it personally, but maybe I'll
just put a few liquor bills in for Towson or something like that."

Brochin's bill would prohibit development on conservation areas located
within 1,000 feet of a major tidal tributary.

If it passes, the legislation would block the construction of the $1 billion
Blackwater Resort, a 3,200-home subdivision with a golf course and
conference center planned for Cambridge.

The development is proposed for farmland and wetlands near the entrance to
the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, one of the region's largest
wildlife preserves.

The bill is "emergency" legislation because the Cambridge City Council has
scheduled a public hearing Feb. 9 on whether to change the zoning of part of
the development site from a "resource conservation area" to an "intensely
developed area."

"The city and the county agree on this development - they're in total
agreement," Colburn said with exasperation. "Now somebody is gonna put a
bill in to stop the project? Somebody who knows better than the citizens of
Dorchester County?"
 

As he continued to passionately defend the development and poke at Brochin,
Colburn stressed - repeatedly - how he was going out of his way to respect
the Senate's rules of decorum. Others, he preached, should follow his
example:

"We need to treat each living senator with the sensitivity we instinctively
use to treat each senator who has passed away."

"I'm gonna try to treat everyone with respect this year - even reporters."

And, quoting Franklin: "Dirt may stick to a mud wall, but not to polished
marble."

"The senator from Baltimore County is not my enemy," Colburn said at the
peak of his lecture. "We're gonna be friends. I'm just gonna try to defeat
his bill. Despite what's gonna transpire with this bill, I'm gonna try not
to be a vengeful person."

After Colburn took his seat, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller
complimented the senator's diplomacy, saying, "Your remarks did the Senate
good, senator."

Brochin wasn't so impressed.

He stood on the opposite side of chambers to return fire at Colburn. Brochin
said his proposal did not violate the legislature's long-standing practice
of local courtesy - where senators defer to colleagues representing a city
or county on matters affecting just that area.

"I didn't just put a bill in to hurt the senator from Dorchester County,"
Brochin said. "This wasn't Democrat versus Republican. This was a policy
issue, and it was clear to me."
 

Brochin said that last fall he sat down with Colburn to discuss Blackwater,
telling him that he was going to oppose the development.
 

His "mistake," he told the chamber, was originally submitting a bill that
would only prevent the planned Cambridge development. His current bill would
protect wildlife areas statewide.

"I'd hoped we could agree to disagree," Brochin said. "And we did until this
moment on the floor."

jill.rosen@baltsun.com

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Jan 27th

Centreville, Queenstown comment on draft comprehensive sewer and water plan
By KONRAD SUROWIEC
Staff Writer
January 27, 2006
 

CENTREVILLE- About 17 citizens, including officials from Centreville and Queenstown, commented on Queen Anne's County's draft comprehensive sewer and water plan. The plan, an update of the 1996 plan, identifies the areas in the county targeted for public water and sewer service, and the estimated time frame for extending those services.

Queenstown Town Commission President John Foster asked the county commissioners (sitting as the sanitary commission for the Tuesday public hearing) to consider three things: accept the town's written comments for the sewer and water plan for the Queenstown growth area; use "performance based criteria" to define the sewer and water map designations; and implement changes to the sewer and water plan as land use changes are made by the Queen Anne's County Planning Commission.

Foster said the water and sewer plan "should not be used as a growth control document," but as a planning document for sewer and water infrastructure.

"The towns still are a focus spot for growth," said Queenstown Town Commissioner Mitch Keiler.

Keiler said there are "overtures" from a developer to provide county sewer service to three properties in the Queenstown growth area - the unincorporated area outside town - by running a force main from the Kent Narrows Stevensville Grasonville (KNSG) sewage treatment plant on Kent Island to Queenstown. When Keiler asked if the county was considering this proposal, the county commissioners indicated they weren't.

The county sewer and water plan has six designations for public sewer and water service: S-1/W-1, has public sewer and service; S-2/W-2, service 1 to 3 years away; S-3/W-3, service 4 to 10 years away; S-4/W-4, service 11 to 20 years away; S-5/W-5, service more than 20 years away; S-6/W-6, no planned service.

The Town of Centreville is asking the county commissioners to recognize the town's need for an additional 42,000 gallons per day sewage treatment capacity, which would increase the capacity from 500,000 gpd to 542,000 gpd. The town has a treatment plant which discharges treated effluent into Gravel Run, but it also pipes treated wastewater to a farm property on Hope Road, where the town operates a spray irrigation disposal system.

Stephen Kehoe, town attorney, said none of the additional 42,000 gpd capacity would be used for annexations. He said 20 percent of the additional capacity would be used for North Brook, a development of single-family homes; 16 percent for Symphony Village, an age restricted community; 17 percent for residential infill development; and 47 percent for commercial uses - but all of it within the existing town limits.

Town Manager Royden Powell said the town plans to allocate 21,000 gpd of the additional allocation the first year.
The 42,000 gpd allocation increase for Centreville also requires a reduction in the buffer area for the spray irrigation fields. That's something that shouldn't be approved because the town has not complied with the terms of its existing permit, said Centreville area resident Kurt Babe, whose Hope Road home is across from the spray fields.

Babe sent a Dec. 21 e-mail to the five county commissioners which alleged the town was not complying with several parts of its permit for the spray irrigation operation because spraying was done on bare soils; spraying was done during times of high winds and shortly after it rains; and a certified operator was not monitoring the spray irrigation system.

"I would strongly ask that you not allow additional capacity (for Centreville)," said Babe.

Babe said he didn't receive a response to his concerns from the town. Powell and Kehoe said they weren't aware of Babe's concerns. Centreville Town Councilman Norman Pinder said he met with Babe and Ed Walls, another Hope Road resident, to hear their concerns about the spray fields.

Pinder said the two men had three questions they wanted answers to, and he gave them a copy of the town's permit. Pinder said the manager of the Centreville sewage treatment plant has the necessary certification to monitor the spray irrigation system, and two other plant workers are taking "involved courses" to obtain the certification.

Several people spoke at the hearing on the importance of having enough sewage treatment capacity for business development.

Harry Duffy, developer of Centreville Business Park, said the park could probably use the entire commercial portion of the additional allocation requested by the Town of Centreville in one year.

"Basically we are stopped until more sewer is allotted," said Duffy.

Lindsay Dixon, president of LaCrosse Homes, said public sewer service is needed for Bay Forest, a project in Grasonville that would have 167 homes on 146 acres. The homes would be built on roughly half the site, while another 25 acres would be dedicated to the Queen Anne's Housing Authority.

A representative of the owner of the Kent Manor Inn asked that the property receive, at a minimum, an S-2//W-2 designation.

County Commission President Joe Cupani said written comments on the county's draft sewer and water plan would be accepted until Feb. 7.

Snow Hill to begin verifying petition names
Lone town resident among movement leaders presenting referendum request
By Jaime Malarkey
Daily Times Staff Writer

SNOW HILL -- A small group presented Mayor Stephen Mathews with a petition on behalf of town residents demanding the Summerfield annexation decision be brought to an at-large vote, though most of the movement leaders live outside the town.

Only one town resident represented about 360 who signed a petition asking to vote on the annexation of more than 1,000 acres slated for development in a brief meeting with Mathews on Thursday. Three other petition leaders who joined her in collecting signatures and handing them over to officials live outside town limits but said the proposed development affects them as county residents.

"Today the citizens of Snow Hill rise like the citizens of Pocomoke did in a quest to preserve the quality of life we now enjoy," the petition leaders said in a joint statement. "We stand ready to work with Snow Hill to make the town a better place in which to live, but to those who would destroy what we hold so dear, we announce that we will continue to work against you."
 

Opponents argue the development could aggravate traffic and overcrowd schools. Though a referendum wouldn't necessarily overturn the annexation, they told residents they should have the final say in the matter.

Supporters of the project cite studies that indicate Snow Hill's school populations are decreasing and estimate more than $40 million in new property tax revenues. They point out that most of the petition's organizers would be ineligible to participate in a referendum.

"(Those) who oppose the Summerfield project do not live in Snow Hill, are distorting the facts, spreading false rumors and are extremely disingenuous as they solicit signatures for their petition," said Worcester NAACP leader Edward S. Lee, who began Citizens Organize in Support of Summerfield in response to the opposition movement.

To secure a referendum, opponents need 20 percent of the town's registered voters to sign the petition, which Lee estimated to be about 260. He launched an aggressive voter registration drive to increase the number of signatures needed to reach 20 percent earlier this week.

Thursday, a cheerful Mathews counted and stamped the petition's pages, noting several instances where signatures were crossed out. He gave Joan Marie Creasy, the lone town resident, a notarized receipt acknowledging the submission.

"They've gone out and did a good job getting signatures," Mathews said. "Now it's a matter of verifying each signature is a registered voter. If they are, it will go to referendum."

Town administrator Kelly Brewington said it will take at least one week to verify all signatures. Petition organizers said they are prepared to file a lawsuit if signatures aren't verified ethically and accurately.

"It's like having the fox watch over the hen house," said petition organizer Dennis Klingenberg.

Summerfield developer Mark Odachowski said he isn't worried about the petition and that he will build through the county if the town overturns the annexation. County Commissioners said, however, a new policy requiring all future development to be annexed into existing towns could jeopardize his plans.

Reach Jaime Malarkey at 410-213-9442, Ext.19, or jmalarkey@gannett.com.

Click here to subscribe:The Daily Times
 

Building plan stirs opposition
Environmentalists say building of 3,200 homes would endanger Blackwater wildlife refuge
By Tom Pelton
sun reporter
January 27, 2006

Cambridge -- The Chesapeake Bay Foundation joined local residents yesterday in calling on the governor to intervene and stop a 3,200-home subdivision planned on the doorstep of the Chesapeake region's largest wildlife refuge.

William C. Baker, president of the environmental group, said it is "ironic and cynical" for the Blackwater Resort project to hijack the name of the nearby Blackwater Wildlife Refuge that would be harmed by the suburban sprawl.

"There comes a time when you have to draw a line in the sand, and say, 'No not here,'" Baker said, standing in front of the 1,080 acres of farms and wetland that would be consumed. "This development will be bad for Dorchester County, it will be bad for farming, and it will be bad for the Chesapeake Bay."

Cambridge officials and the Ehrlich administration last year approved designating the site a state "priority funding area," making the project eligible for state funding for roads and sewers under the Smart Growth Act of 1997.

Henry Fawell, a spokesman for Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., said Ehrlich will not interfere in what he considers a mostly local issue. "The governor has a great respect for the refuge, but he also has a great respect for local government to make their own decisions," Fawell said.

Supporters of the project, including Cambridge's mayor, have called it important for the economic health of a city that has been losing population since the 1960's.

William "Sandy" McAllister, attorney for developer Dwayne E.E. Zentgraf, said the land is a logical place for growth because it is immediately south of a school complex.

"They are asking the governor's office to ignore nearly three years of county and city zoning decisions," McAllister said. "To ignore the city and county is to say they don't trust the people who are responsible for making these decisions."

Dorchester County and Cambridge officials have granted preliminary approvals for the project. The Cambridge City Council has scheduled a public hearing Feb. 9 on whether to change the designation of about a third of the development site from a "resource conservation area" to an "intensely developed area."

A final vote by the City Council on the $1 billion project is expected after another public hearing Feb. 27. Then the proposal will be reviewed by the state Critical Area Commission, which has jurisdiction over areas within 1,000 feet of Chesapeake Bay tributaries. A majority of the commission's 29 members are appointed by the governor.

The developer has said he does not intend to use any public funds for the project's roads, sewers, homes, shops, hotel, conference center, parking lots and golf course.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is circulating petitions asking the governor to use his political leverage to stop a project that would "change the character of the area forever."

The group also set up a hotline for opponents of the project (1-888-DONT-BUILD-IT) and is sponsoring a "town hall" style meeting at 7 p.m. Monday at the Dorchester County Library in Cambridge.

Cambridge Mayor Cleveland Rippons said he's frustrated with the foundation's involvement, and can see "no rationale why the governor should intervene."

"The Blackwater Resorts community has been on the drawing board for three years," Rippons said. "The appropriate time to comment would be at the beginning ... not at the 11th hour."

During a press conference at the development site yesterday, about 50 neighbors and environmentalists said that the subdivision will flush dirty water into the wildlife refuge, clog roads with traffic, scare away animals, and draw people out of downtown Cambridge.

The construction will not help the city because it's planned on a "gerrymandered" strip of farmland recently annexed onto the city's southwestern corner, said Fred Pomeroy, a local teacher and leader of Dorchester County Citizens for Planned Growth.

"We have the crown jewel of the National Wildlife System just down the road," Pomeroy said. "And now we have more than 3,000 houses being built here on critical wetlands. These mega developments are about the worst enemy we have of our quality of life."

tom.pelton@baltsun.com

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Spray Irrigation Follow-Up by Kurt Babe

Gentlemen;

Thank you giving me the opportunity to speak last evening on the subject of the reduction of the buffer zone for the spray irrigation filed on Hope Road/305.  As said last evening, I, along with Mr. Ed Walls met with Mr. Norman Pinder today and reviewed our concerns and the spray irrigation permit, Number 00-DP-3323A.  Allow me to point out a number of areas that the Town of Centreville is noncompliant and further make the case for a rejection of their request to modify the buffer zone.

First, prior to any discussion of the proposal, you need to review/random audit, the monitoring and data recording they are in fact supposed to be conducting.  I am NOT suggesting they are not doing said recording, but careful review of the daily reports may shed light on their ability to monitor and manage.  If done properly and honestly, one area; determining weather conditions which is mandated to be recorded on a daily basis will be clear.

PAGE 4 - Under C. Land Application Requirements and Limitations sections, namely;

- sub-paragraph 2. “At no time shall spray irrigation be conducted on areas with bare unvegetated soils.  Excessive irrigation resulting in surface run-off or ponding is prohibited”… This is in fact occurring and is further exasperated when the current crops, namely corn, once harvested; the soil becomes bare and unable to be sprayed upon.  Clear violation of the permit and mis-management.

- sub-paragraph 3. “Irrigation of treated wastewater shall not take place during periods of precipitation, high winds, freezing conditions, or saturated soils…” According to Mr. Powell, there is no requirement or prohibition against spraying during high winds or freezing conditions.  Although I have not seen spraying during a freeze, spraying occurs regularly during times of high winds and shortly thereafter when it rains.  This is another clear violation of the permit and mis-management.  Additionally, Mr. Powell told me that he wanted to spray during winter months, which is another non-compliance issue if done.

PAGE 5

- sub-paragraph 7. “A 25% reserve capacity should be set aside in case that future adjustments in application rates are necessary.” By definition, a reserve equaling 25% is not needed to be set aside UNLESS the application rates need to be increased, thus any adjustments to capacity must come out of the 25% of land set aside in the reserve.  The city has come to you asking for application rates/capacity be increased by about 8%.  By permit, this must come out of the reserve that was supposed to be put aside in the permit.  This reserve must be land that is capable of being used as spray irrigation land…it can not woodlands, creeks, roads, land around buildings/pond or buffer zones etc.  When reviewing the map, I believe this reserve does not exist unless a number of spraying zones are currently or have not been used for spraying.  Thus additionally capacity first comes out of the reserve while maintaining the current buffer… If the reserve does not exist, the town is non-compliant of the permit.

PAGE 6 – Under D. Monitoring Requirements of the Land Application System, namely;

- sub-paragraph 1. “The spray irrigation system shall be monitored by a certified operator.  The operator shall inspect and check the spray area daily to determine efficiency and adequacy of the system.”  Mr. Pinder shared with Mr. Walls and me that one of the requirements for certification was 4000 hours of on the job experience, as well as other requirements he would be checking on. As a side note, there are, by generally accepted measures 2080 hours in a work year, 4000 hours is almost 2 full years.   He went on to say that that was one of the reasons the last Plant Manager was dismissed…in other words he wasn’t qualified.  This brings up the question of who is on site and is that individual “certified”.  Due to the manual nature of running and monitoring the spray irrigation equipment on a daily basis, it is logical to think that that full time employee working is needed at the field everyday…and if compliant with the permit, he must be certified, my understanding is he is not.  The certification is on the Plant manager who is responsible for both the plant and the field.  If Mr. Pinder is correct, not having an on site “certified” operator on the Hope Road facility, is a further non-compliance violation.

Gentlemen, I could go on about mismanagement, breaking of promises and poor community relations…I will not.  Mr. Cassell noted in an e-mail to me, “Kurt –since the trees are planted, is the remaining issues relative to trust in the system?   The legal answer is they must conform to what is stated in their permit.”  I would state this… not all the trees are planted, there is no trust in the management of the operation and no they haven’t conformed/complied to what is stated in the permit.

I am thus asking you to vote against added capacity and reduction of the buffer.

Thank you for your consideration,
Kurt
 
 

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QUEENSTOWN

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So if you have any questions or concerns you would like to voice please email the Commissioner of your choice by clicking on the links below.

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John Foster


COUNTY NEWS

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