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March 4, 2001

Commissioner George M. O'Donnell
Commissioner Marlene F. Davis
Commissioner John T. McQueeney, Jr.
107 North Liberty Street
Centreville, MD  21617

Subject: Four Season's Development Growth Allocation Public Hearing

Dear Commissioners:

We were at the subject hearing February 27, and agree with the vast majority of citizen's attending that you should deny growth allocation for this project.  It was amusing to hear the developer's supporters, who seemed to have their hands in Hovnanian's pockets one way or another…even if it was only a cocktail party before the Hearing.  Our overriding concern is once again, the County seems to be making up the rules as yet another project proceeds through the approval process.  If the Four Season's project is being dramatically revised, why didn't the process start again?  Shouldn't the developers also address their share of the additional $11 million dollars required to build the new wastewater plant?

As we see it, the current taxpayers once again will be hit hard.  Our taxes just went up, and what are we getting for it?  The opportunity to pay for infrastructure improvements for new developments?  This just doesn't make sense.  We have failing septic systems all over Kent Island (including in our development, Marling Farms), and until these failures are formally addressed, approval of future development MUST be put on hold.  According to the MDE in a letter to you October 30, 2000, they approved the current plant's 1 million gallon per day increase and subsequent upgrade to the plant.  However, MDE was very concerned about public health implications and environmental impacts on the Bay from malfunctioning septic systems.  Further, MDE, "strongly suggests that some type of allocation system for the increase in capacity be established by Queen Anne's County to address the residents' concerns.  Future plant expansions will be evaluated pursuant to this issue being addressed. "   Has this been done?

If these reasons aren't enough to push this project back, here are a few more.

1. Environment - A storm of significant proportions, even with the current build level on Kent Island could severely damage the bay and its watersheds forever.  Recall the pfisteria outbreak, lower crab and oyster harvests we are experiencing.  You don't need to be a rocket scientist to realize the runoff and sewage from increased development are largely responsible for the Bay's health.   All means should be taken to protect this national treasure.  As a County, we should never compromise on recommended setbacks or buffers and always demand the maximum (or more), when new development is proposed.

2. Gridlock - We live on an Island where citizens are often held captive April/May through September/October because of Rt. 50 traffic.  While we knew this was an issue when we moved here, we never expected that the County would promote stupid growth, turning Kent Island into the largest parking lot in the State.  No matter what you do, you cannot deny we live on an island with only one way in and out.

3. Citizen's needs  - We do not disagree that an over 55 community is a good idea; however, the plans as presented Tuesday did not meet the needs of our aging population.  Amenities should include public transportation, facilities for on-site medical services, assisted living, etc.   Without these, we are afraid Four Seasons would turn into another typical family housing development that sucks more revenues out of the county than it puts in.

4. Disregard for the Stevensville Community Plan:  As stated by the Chair of the Stevensville CAC, "…in my worst nightmares did I ever envision that someone would try to develop the property on such a massive scale with such a disregard to CAC plan and the desires of our residents.  The concept presented to the CAC by Attorney Joe Stevens and his clients in August 1997 raised several issues of concern, primarily traffic impacts and residential density.  On those issues, the final plan is even worse than the concept plan.  The existing proposal goes against the letter and the spirit of the Stevensville Community Plan, which serves as 'the official Comprehensive Plan for the Stevensville area.' [See page 1-1 of the plan]. What they are proposing is development run amuck, and it must be stopped in order to preserve Kent Island and the democratic process."

While one could argue this development follows the spirit of Maryland's Smart Growth program and is consistent with the existing QAC Comprehensive Plan; the circumstances outlined above make it obvious we need to rethink our Comprehensive Plan and change our future direction before it is too late.  Therefore, again, we respectfully ask the Commissioners to do the right thing by denying the growth allocation request for the Four Seasons project and require the review process to start anew.  Further, we request that the Commissioner's step back and request citizen involvement to revise the Comprehensive Plan consistent with these concerns.  We understand it will be a huge challenge to determine the best way to provide relief to failing septic systems while possibly relocating part of the growth area off Kent Island.  However, based on the turn out last Tuesday, we believe you will receive overwhelming support from the citizens for such an initiative and will have no problem finding volunteers to help plan for a smarter future for Kent Island and Queen Anne's County.

Your consideration of this request and ongoing interest in what we think is sincerely appreciated.

Peter  Martinez 
Chester, MD
Marie Moroney
Chester, MD

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