West and Rhode Riverkeeper

We work with our community to enforce environmental law, to
promote restoration, and to advocate for better environmental policy.
Contact us: 443-758-7797  ♦  PO Box 172, Shady Side, MD 20764

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Turtle Run hearings continue

Turtle Run Development

Summary of Initial Hearings before Board of Appeals

September 7 – 8, 2016

The Anne Arundel County Board of Appeals held hearings on the Turtle Run appeal on September 7 and 8.  The first day was primarily concerned with argument on motions filed by both sides.  The Snyder applicants filed a motion to dismiss all of the appellants for lack of standing. 

SACReD (South Arundel Citizens for Responsible Development) and the West Rhode Riverkeeper filed three motions to vacate the County Office of Planning and Zonging’s conditional approval of the Sketch Plan and to dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.  The three motions were based upon: 

  1. OPZ’s failure to complete the statutorily required procedures for lot reconfiguration/consolidation under COMAR 27.01.02.08;
  2. OPZ and the Board of Appeals lack jurisdictional authority to override the MD state statute that limits development in the RCA (Resource Conservation Area) to only 1 house per 20 acres; and
  3. OPZ and the Board lack jurisdictional authority under the County’s existing critical area program to transfer development rights from parcels with non-critical area land onto non-contiguous parcels in the RCA. 

Snyder and the County opposed the motions on grounds that they were not jurisdictional, but raise issues that should be decided by the Board after hearing evidence.  The Board considered the motions to dismiss overnight and decided at the beginning of the next session to deny them.

The second day was devoted primarily to taking evidence regarding standing of the appellants.  Half way through the session, the Board Chairman directed the Board counsel to call the role of listed appellants and to identify those who were present in the hearing room. 

In the Chesapeake Bay Foundation appeal, CBF was present and CBF’s three individual appellants (Lauretta Duke, Beth McGee and Ann Wearmouth) were also present.  According to my notes, the following were present for the SACReD appeal:  SACReD, West Rhode Riverkeeper, Tracy Knight, Natalie Robert, Mike Heffernan, John Wyss, Mike Shay, VK Holzendorf, Dick Worth, and Robert Passemante.  Snyder has conceded that Mr. Passemante has standing.

                 The Board also addressed the issue of who could participate during the hearing in questioning witnesses and arguing points of law.  The Chairman ruled that only attorneys who are members of the Maryland bar can so participate.  Despite the language in the Board’s rules, the Chairman stated that authorized representatives of CBF and West Rhode Riverkeeper (John Wyss) who are not members of the Maryland bar can participate by offering evidence and testifying, but cannot examine witnesses.

                 Evidence was taken on CBF’s standing.  Snyder and the County opposed CBF standing.  However, after hearing initial testimony, one of the Board members (Mr. Devlin) moved that, based on that testimony, he was convinced that CBF had standing.  There was a discussion by the Board members and a vote was taken.  The vote was 5 to 1 in favor of CBF having standing.  The Chairman was the one vote against.  Thus, the 5 members of the Board rejected the efforts by Snyder’s counsel and County counsel to throw out the case on the procedural standing technicality. 

The Board then heard compelling testimony from Lauretta Duke, a local Franklin Manor resident who lives across from the proposed development, regarding her standing and how she will be adversely impacted if 11 houses and 9 paths to the water and 9 piers are built across from her house at Turtle Run.

The Board did not rule on Ms. Duke’s standing, but will consider that issue at the next hearing that is scheduled for October 6.  Unless agreement is reached with Snyder’s counsel, it is likely that the hearing on October 6 will continue to take evidence regarding the standing of the other individuals in the CBF appeal, SACReD, West Rhode Riverkeeper and the other individuals listed on the SACReD appeal who were present in the hearing room when the Chairman called the role on the second day.  Although there has not yet been a formal ruling, it is likely that the Chairman will move to dismiss all of the listed appellants who were not present at the second hearing session.

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Turtle Run hearings continue

Turtle Run Development

Summary of Initial Hearings before Board of Appeals

September 7 – 8, 2016

The Anne Arundel County Board of Appeals held hearings on the Turtle Run appeal on September 7 and 8.  The first day was primarily concerned with argument on motions filed by both sides.  The Snyder applicants filed a motion to dismiss all of the appellants for lack of standing. 

SACReD (South Arundel Citizens for Responsible Development) and the West Rhode Riverkeeper filed three motions to vacate the County Office of Planning and Zonging’s conditional approval of the Sketch Plan and to dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.  The three motions were based upon: 

  1. OPZ’s failure to complete the statutorily required procedures for lot reconfiguration/consolidation under COMAR 27.01.02.08;
  2. OPZ and the Board of Appeals lack jurisdictional authority to override the MD state statute that limits development in the RCA (Resource Conservation Area) to only 1 house per 20 acres; and
  3. OPZ and the Board lack jurisdictional authority under the County’s existing critical area program to transfer development rights from parcels with non-critical area land onto non-contiguous parcels in the RCA. 

Snyder and the County opposed the motions on grounds that they were not jurisdictional, but raise issues that should be decided by the Board after hearing evidence.  The Board considered the motions to dismiss overnight and decided at the beginning of the next session to deny them.

The second day was devoted primarily to taking evidence regarding standing of the appellants.  Half way through the session, the Board Chairman directed the Board counsel to call the role of listed appellants and to identify those who were present in the hearing room. 

In the Chesapeake Bay Foundation appeal, CBF was present and CBF’s three individual appellants (Lauretta Duke, Beth McGee and Ann Wearmouth) were also present.  According to my notes, the following were present for the SACReD appeal:  SACReD, West Rhode Riverkeeper, Tracy Knight, Natalie Robert, Mike Heffernan, John Wyss, Mike Shay, VK Holzendorf, Dick Worth, and Robert Passemante.  Snyder has conceded that Mr. Passemante has standing.

                 The Board also addressed the issue of who could participate during the hearing in questioning witnesses and arguing points of law.  The Chairman ruled that only attorneys who are members of the Maryland bar can so participate.  Despite the language in the Board’s rules, the Chairman stated that authorized representatives of CBF and West Rhode Riverkeeper (John Wyss) who are not members of the Maryland bar can participate by offering evidence and testifying, but cannot examine witnesses.

                 Evidence was taken on CBF’s standing.  Snyder and the County opposed CBF standing.  However, after hearing initial testimony, one of the Board members (Mr. Devlin) moved that, based on that testimony, he was convinced that CBF had standing.  There was a discussion by the Board members and a vote was taken.  The vote was 5 to 1 in favor of CBF having standing.  The Chairman was the one vote against.  Thus, the 5 members of the Board rejected the efforts by Snyder’s counsel and County counsel to throw out the case on the procedural standing technicality. 

The Board then heard compelling testimony from Lauretta Duke, a local Franklin Manor resident who lives across from the proposed development, regarding her standing and how she will be adversely impacted if 11 houses and 9 paths to the water and 9 piers are built across from her house at Turtle Run.

The Board did not rule on Ms. Duke’s standing, but will consider that issue at the next hearing that is scheduled for October 6.  Unless agreement is reached with Snyder’s counsel, it is likely that the hearing on October 6 will continue to take evidence regarding the standing of the other individuals in the CBF appeal, SACReD, West Rhode Riverkeeper and the other individuals listed on the SACReD appeal who were present in the hearing room when the Chairman called the role on the second day.  Although there has not yet been a formal ruling, it is likely that the Chairman will move to dismiss all of the listed appellants who were not present at the second hearing session.

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Join the Riverkeeper to save Deep Cove in Churchton from development

Join the Riverkeeper to save Deep Cove in Churchton from development
 

Anne Arundel County has granted conditional approval for Turtle Run at Deep Cove, a project that would locate 11 homes on a 40-acre parcel along Deep Cove Creek where Critical Area rules say there should be only two.

That decision was appealed by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, South Arundel Citizens for Responsible Development and the West & Rhode Riverkeeper, who contend the project, and the definition the county used to find the project legal, run counter to the intent and letter of the Critical Area law designed to protect lands abutting the state's waterways.

The first Board of Appeals hearing date is tomorrow, Wednesday, September 7, starting at 3:30 pm.  The hearing normally goes for about two hours or so.

The second hearing date is Thursday, September 8, 2016, but this time starting at 5:30 pm.  Again the hearing will likely last for a couple of hours.

The hearings will be held at the County Council Chambers on the First Floor of the Arundel Center, 44 Calvert Street, Annapolis, Maryland.

Please attend and show your support to save Deep Cove from development.

(Portions were excerpted from a recent article in the Capital by E.B. Furgurson III)

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ChesaTreks presents Jug Bay Wetlands Ecology by Canoe

jug bay banner

What:              ChesaTreks presents: Jug Bay Wetland Ecology by Canoe

Where:           Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, 1361 Wrighton Road, Lothian, MD 20711

When:             Saturday, October 8, 2016

Time:              9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Admission:     $50 per person, including canoe and picnic lunch

Join Jug Bay naturalists on a guided canoe journey on the Patuxent River on Saturday, October. 8, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The tour is the latest in the West & Rhode Riverkeeper’s adventure series, ChesaTreks, providing a fun on-the-water nature experience followed by a picnic and discussion. An admission fee of $50 per person includes canoe, life jacket and paddle, plus a picnic lunch.

Reservations are required. 

Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, operated by Anne Arundel County Department of Recreation and Parks, consists of 1,700 acres of open water, tidal freshwater marshes, forested wetlands, upland and riparian forest, creeks, meadows, pine and sand barrens, and fields along the tidal reaches of the Patuxent River.

Its network of habitats, including its extensive tidal freshwater wetlands, provides a safe environment to a high diversity of plants, invertebrates, birds, fish, reptiles, and mammal species. The National Audubon Society has designated the Sanctuary as a Nationally Important Bird Area

A rich archaeological history tells the story of Native Americans living at Jug Bay nearly 10,000 years ago. Pig Point, only a mile from the Sanctuary, contains Maryland's oldest archaeological artifacts.

What you need to know:

Age Requirement: 7 and up.  Children under 16 are required to have at least one adult in the canoe.  Two adults per child are recommended for children between 7 and 10.

Duration: 4 hours.  This includes orientation, paddling instructions, one-mile hike to launch site, launching canoes, and paddling, followed by a picnic lunch.  Time on the river is about 2 to 2.5 hours.

Participants arriving later than 15 minutes after the program start time may not be able to participate.  Please be courteous and arrive on time.

Private canoes and kayaks are not permitted.  You may bring your own paddles or Coast Guard approved PFD if you wish.

Be Prepared!  What to Bring:

  • Plenty of drinking water or other liquids.
  • Snack to eat on the water.
  • Sunscreen
  • Broad-brimmed hat
  • Synthetic clothing that dries quickly and shoes that can get wet
  • Optional: binoculars and camera.
  • Remember we will be on the water and personal items may get wet. Canoes can tip over, paddles drip water into the canoes, and feet can get wet when entering or exiting the canoe. We claim no liability for personal items or electronic equipment (cell phones included) that are damaged during the canoe trip.
  • Recommended: Waterproof dry bag to protect expensive electronic items from water.
  • It is an easy one-mile walk to the canoe launch site (River Pier) so you may wish to wear comfortable walking shoes before changing into paddling "wettable" shoes at the launch site.

Directions to Jug Bay from Annapolis (Do NOT follow your GPS!)

1361 Wrighton Road, Lothian, MD 20711
410-741-9330


From West St. at Parole, take Route 2 south 18 miles. At the Lothian "circle" go 3/4 of the way around and stay on Route 2. Go past the fire station, schools and St. James Church (on left) until the next stoplight at Route 258; go right (west) on Rt. 258. Continue on Route 258 for 4.5 miles until this ends near the "Park and Ride" just after crossing over Route 4. At the stop sign, turn onto Wrighton Rd. and continue for 1.5 miles to Sanctuary entrance on LEFT. Follow the gravel drive about 1 mile to the parking area for the Wetlands Center.

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Riverkeeper launches new wetlands project in Shady Side

shady side bannerThe West & Rhode Riverkeeper has just launched a project at the Avalon Shores Fire Department in Shady Side to create a new wetland to treat stormwater that runs into the West River and help relieve flooding on Shady Side Road and neighboring properties.

Funded by grants from the Chesapeake Bay Trust, the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Trust Fund, Patagonia and Unity Gardens, the project will remove 2,000 square feet of an unused asphalt parking lot and create 4,252 square feet of stormwater treatment wetland.  Construction will be complete by the end of August. Volunteers from the Avalon Shores community will help plant the wetlands with native plants in November.

This newly created stormwater treatment wetland will capture and treat stormwater from about acres of adjacent lawn and impervious surface.  This imperious surface consists of county roads, the fire department, and roofs and driveways of nearby residences.  The newly created wetland will be installed next to the existing intermittent stream (a man-made drainage ditch) and will capture some stormwater flows from this ditch.  This will increase the amount of water retained after rain events and slow flows traveling downstream to the adjacent neighborhood.

The project will reduce the total amount of stormwater pollution (nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment) entering South Creek in the West River. It will also reduce stormwater flows that currently flood neighboring properties in the Avalon Shores Community. 

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Explore Franklin Point State Park

Aerial view of parkContact:          Jeff Holland 

What:              Explore Franklin Point State Park

When:             Saturday, July 16

Time:              10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Where:            Franklin Point State Park, Shady Side, MD (see bottom for directions)

Admission:     Free, reservations requested

Food and soft drinks available for purchase at a modest cost

Info: www.westrhoderiverkeeper.org   /  410-867-7171

Riverkeeper to open new interpretive trail at Franklin Point State Park

The West and Rhode Riverkeeper, working in partnership with the Maryland Park Service, will cut the ribbon on a new interpretive hiking trail at Franklin Point State Park in Shady Side at a special event on Saturday, July 16, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event is free, but reservations are requested.

“Come and immerse yourself in the natural and cultural history of Southern Anne Arundel County as we unveil a new interpretive hiking trail at the recently opened Franklin Point State Park in Shady Side,” says Angela Trenkle, the Riverkeeper’s Chesapeake Conservation Corps volunteer who has researched and designed the interpretive elements of the trail.

“In addition to checking out the new trail,” Trenkle says, “you’ll have the opportunity to engage all five of your senses in the natural and cultural history of the area, including BBQ, fried fish and chicken and all the fixings from the Galesville Community Center, seining demonstrations by scientists from the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, bird walks with birding experts, and archaeological exhibits from the Lost Towns Project revealing the lives of people living near the site more than 3,000 years ago.”

Franklin Point State Park, a pristine 477-acre tract of salt marsh, fields and forests, was saved from development more than 20 years ago by a group of local citizens, but it was locked behind a gate until the West and Rhode Riverkeeper formed a partnership with the Park Service to provide the volunteers needed to help maintain and monitor the park.

The event is made possible with a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust.

To reserve admission, email Angela Trenkle or call 410-867-7171.

The event will take place at the day use area of Franklin Point State Park. From Annapolis, take Rt. 2 south, turn left on Rt. 214, turn right onto Muddy Creek Road and follow past the intersection of Deale/Churchton Road. Turn left onto Dent Road and follow to the end. Please drive slowly on Dent Road and watch for wildlife, children and dogs. 

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Tonight's SUP session cancelled due to impending weather

The stand-up paddleboarding session scheduled for this eveninng has been cancelled due to nasty weather heading this way. If you've made a reservation, Alex Thompson will contact you to reschedule. 

 

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Tonight's SUP session cancelled due to impending weather

The stand-up paddleboarding session scheduled for this eveninng has been cancelled due to nasty weather heading this way. If you've made a reservation, Alex Thompson will contact you to reschedule. 

 

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Tonight's kayaking cancelled

Tonight's kayaking program has been cancelled due to weather. 

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Preservation Paddle, June 21

paddling-2Contact:          Sarah Knebel / sarah@srlt.org / 410-980-6837

What:             Preservation Paddle

When:             Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Time:              6 – 8 p.m.
Where:           Discovery Village

4800 Atwell Rd, Shady Side, MD 20764

Admission:     Free, reservations required

RSVP:              Sarah Knebel via email at sarah@srlt.org 

The West & Rhode Riverkeeper and the Scenic Rivers Land Trust are teaming up for a fun kayak paddle to visit West & Rhode Riverkeeper restoration sites as well as permanently protected property.

“Come join us and learn about what it means to preserve and protect land, all while enjoying a beautiful kayak paddle,” says SRLT’s Easement Outreach Coordinator, Sarah Knebel. “It’s a great opportunity to meet SRLT staff and ask questions about preservation options for your own land.”

The event is free, but reservations are required. Please contact Sarah Knebel via email at sarah@srlt.org. There are a limited number of kayaks, paddles, and lifejackets available to borrow, or you can bring your own. 

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