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Rebecca P. Ellison, Ph.D.
Oxford, MD

February 27, 2001

Queen Anne's County Commissioners
107 North Liberty Street
Centreville, MD 21617

Re:  Growth allocation request by K. Hovnanian Enterprise's Four Seasons Project on Kent Island

Dear Commissioners,

I am writing to ask that you DENY growth allocation to the Four Seasons project on Kent Island because it is clearly not in compliance with (not consistent with) the Critical Area Commission's goals or the criteria of the Critical Area Program as required for approval for a change in land use designation from LDA to IDA.

This has been amply demonstrated by the citizens of Kent Island, particularly the Kent Island Defense League, as well as the Critical Area Commission staff itself which gave only conditional approval and indicated through its split vote that there were problems with the proposed project.

A project of this magnitude simply does not belong on a rural island location such as Kent Island even if it were not the case that the location was fragile shoreline.  The wonderful communities which evolved over the last 350 years can be made to disappear in five years by this sort of megadevelopment which is so contrary to what the existing communities are and what their infrastructure can support. Again, these points have been well presented and substantiated by the citizens of Kent Island, particularly the Kent Island Defense League.

I entirely agree with each and every objection presented by the Kent Island Defense League regarding the effect of the project on Kent Island and Queen Anne's County.  I would like to add that the citizens of Talbot County, particularly the Talbot Preservation Alliance, wholeheartedly support the citizens of Kent Island in their opposition.

Talbot County stands to be impacted in a major way by this project and yet I have heard no official in Queen Anne's address this.

Medical Care - One of the first things that comes to mind regarding the impact on Talbot County is that there is the assumption that the medical care for these thousands of "age-restricted" older occupants of  Four Seasons will be receiving their medical care from the Easton Memorial Hospital and probably choosing physicians from the Shore Health System.  This needs to be investigated.  It is the consensus of Talbot citizens that these two entities are already inadequate to meet present needs.  Even the Easton Comprehensive Plan of 1997 addresses this on page 75:  "As Memorial Hospital has expanded, the Hospital and surrounding residential areas have encountered increasing conflicts.... "  It is presently very very difficult to find a Talbot doctor who is "taking new patients".  The thousands of new patients coming from Four Seasons would  be an intolerable burden on the existing healthcare system.

Solid waste disposal - The Midshore Regional Waste Treatment facility located in Talbot County near Easton presently serves as the collection point and repository for solid waste from Queen Anne's and Caroline County as well as for Talbot County.  According to a state-maintained web page, this facility is expected to last "between 10 and 15" more years before being filled.  Also according to this web page, it has not yet been determined whether Queen Anne's or Caroline will be the next site.  This is a serious problem which should be throughly investigated and understood.  The impact of all the new construction in Talbot County should be factored in to the considerations as should the new construction contemplated in Queen Anne's.

Overfishing the crab and oyster populations - Two recent articles in the Star Democrat are pertinent.  One explained that the recent reduction in applications for crab picking facility licenses (a drop from approx. 48 to approx. 38 in the last year) is, paradoxically, the result of the sudden increased demand for year-round crab meat which has caused a sudden increase in the demand for imported crab meat and, in combination with the decreased (overfished) supply of local crabs, has left the local crab pickers with less work.  The conclusion of the author was that the "demise" of essentially all local crab picking operations was "inevitable".  Another article said that the state of Delaware was considering allowing an oyster harvest after a moratorium of six years due to low oyster stocks.  The causes given were disease and overfishing.  It is not too hard to understand that the increased population of this area and the increase in tourism are largely responsible for the overfishing of both of these ecologically and economically important fishery stocks.  Talbot watermen depend on both the crab and oyster fisheries for their livlihood.  Increased development (mega development) on Kent Island is highly detrimental to Talbot watermen since the demand for seafood, even at current levels, is not sustainable.

These are only a few of the many reasons that this project should be denied.  Please listen to what your citizens have to say and please give their testimony the importance it deserves.  Please also consult with citizens and officials at every level in Talbot County.  Queen Anne's does not exist in a vacuum, to do what it likes with its priceless land.  Rather it is part of the MidShore region and should act in concert with adjacent counties.  Kent Island should not be up for grabs to the highest bidder, particularly when it is so clear to all that this present "highest bidder" will bring such a burden to those who built and who have such a high stake in their communities.  The negative effects of Kent Island development are already felt in Talbot.  Enough is enough.



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