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February 27, 2001

Statement of Thomas A. Deming

Good evening.  My name is Thomas A. Deming.  I served as Counsel to the State Department of Natural Resources from 1979 to 1995, and in that role, I was the legal advisor to the Critical Area Commission during development and passage of the Commission’s criteria for local program development.

Members of the Kent Island Defense League have asked me to address, from that historical perspective on the Critical Area law and criteria, the growth allocation proposal for the Four Seasons project.  But I would like to start with some perspective from your first representative to the Commission, Robert Price, Jr.

Upon his departure after eight years of service, Mr. Price shared his thoughts with Commission members at a retreat in October, 1994.  Among other observations, he stated:

“While the future implementation of the local programs will bring issues as to buffer exemptions, impervious surface, water quality discharge and other matters, the sole major issue before the Commission is how to protect, conserve, and preserve the RCA lands.”

Regrettably, the Commission’s endorsement of the four Seasons proposal demonstrates that its members have paid little heed to Mr. Price’s advice.

The Critical Area criteria, and the Queen Anne’s County program, are replete with guidelines for how the RCA may be protected and conserved, even where growth allocation is used to increase the density of development.  With the time available for comment, I will address just two.

First, both the Criteria and your local program state that, “New Intensely Developed Areas and Limited Development Areas in the Resource Conservation Area should be located at least 300 feet beyond the landward edge of tidal wetlands or tidal waters.”  The Four Seasons project involves the largest single acreage of growth allocation ever considered by the Commission.  Logic would dictate that the more land available, the more likely it is that the 300 feet setback can, and therefore should, be honored.  Yet the Commission accepted a 100 feet setback along the entire Chester River shoreline of this site.  One can only say with dismay that, if not here, then where can citizens ever look for the 300 feet setback to be fully utilized to conserve and protect the RCA?

Second, your local program, at page 17, assures that, “New IDA or LDA located in the RCA will conform to all criteria of the Queen Anne’s Critical Area Program for LDA or IDA.”  Turning back to page 7, a site layout criteria for new IDA areas is, “To the extent practicable, use cluster development to reduce impervious areas and to maximize areas of natural vegetation.”  There is little or no clustering in the row after row of little square parcels that dominate the Four Seasons proposal.  Again, if not on a parcel with this much area to work with, where can your citizens ever expect to find this requirement fully honored?

In sum, for these and other reasons addressed by others here tonight, both planning staff and the Commission have thus far failed to conserve and protect the RCA to the extent that is certainly doable on a project site of this size.  They certainly have done you, the elected representatives, no favor.  Now your constituents can only look to you, finally, to conserve and protect the RCA within the intent of the Criteria and the Queen Anne’s County program.  Towards that goal, a vote of no on the present proposal is necessary.

Thank you for your time and attention.

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