|The following Letter to
the Editor appeared in the 11/28 Bay Times and 11/30 Record Observer.
Letter to the Editor - Bay
Four Seasons has Merits
Reasonable should be an operative word when addressing new developments on Kent Island. The Kent Island Defense League (KIDL) approach of interfering with every development, with the goal of keeping Kent Island unchanged, does not fit the reasonable test. I do support the cause of not having a Wal-Mart next to the bridge - a better location being in Queenstown near the Outlet Center. However, the planned Four Seasons development does have merit. Both properties are of high value and they will and should be developed in some fashion. Stopping all development is not reasonable or practical. I refused, when asked to sign the KIDL petition to call for a referendum on the Four Seasons project, because the petition was not well thought out, not timely and did not include an appropriate justification. Our County and State representatives have properly addressed the economic and environment issues of this project.
The planned adult community of Four Seasons, including an assisted living facility, is a reasonable use of that valuable property. Foregoing this plan could, and probably would, result in a very undesirable piecemeal development that includes a forest of baby producing town houses - extension of Bay Side-type units over that property. Such development of town houses would be very costly to all other residents and would not provide the tax base needed to pay for the required infrastructure of such housing.
We all did have appropriate opportunities to provide multiple input on the Four Seasons project. This lengthy and arduous process of approval has resulted in several improvements to the plan. Continuing to fight it with tree-hugger tactics, like those of the KIDL, does the community a major disservice. Public referendum opportunities may be appropriate for some issues, but the one proposed by the KIDL is not one of them.
Hopefully, the Circuit Court will dispense quickly with this contest and allow the overall concept to proceed through the review, and perhaps approval, process. Interfering at this stage of the process, with unusual legal challenges, is inappropriate and wrong-headed.
KIDL Response to "Four Seasons has Merits" (submitted to The Bay Times 11/30):
The Kent Island Defense League would like to comment on Loring Mills’ Letter to the Editor (Bay Times 11/28).
- KIDL does not "interfere with every development, with the goal of keeping Kent Island unchanged”, and KIDL does not promote "stopping all development". We have been organized for only one year, and have not "interfered with" any of the recent residential or commercial developments such as Mallard Run, Claiborne Woods, Anchorage, Cox Landing, Grasonville Station, Ellendale, etc.
KIDL opposes specific and cumulative development we consider detrimental to the environment and to our quality of life, and we only request "Responsible Growth". The cumulative effect of excessive development will be to degrade the environment (especially when placed in Chesapeake Bay Critical Areas) and substantially reduce our quality of life by increasing traffic, straining emergency services, and increasing public debt. The health of the Chesapeake Bay, the Chester River, and Cox Creek is already poor by many standards. Additional sewage effluent from a significantly expanded sewer plant and additional runoff from large amounts of impervious surfaces will further degrade water quality. We have submitted supporting information documenting the likely degradation, and feel the issue has not been properly addressed by the County and State. We are not "tree huggers" by any standard, but are reasonable, and concerned, citizens. We do not appreciate being improperly labeled as tree huggers, NIMBYS, vocal minority, extremist, etc. We are your neighbors.
- "forests of baby producing town houses" that do not provide an adequate tax base can be prevented by the judicious use of various tools including an Adequate Public Facilities ordinance, Adequate Impact Fees (implemented without waivers and exceptions), restrictions on sewer allocations and building permits, etc. Development in Critical Areas is NOT INEVITABLE, and can occur ONLY at the discretion of our elected County Commissioners.
- The economic issues related to the Four Seasons project cannot be assessed until the terms of the Development Agreement are disclosed. However, we are concerned that the developer's 20 year Fiscal Analysis included debt service based only on the year 2000 budgeted amount, and that it excluded any consideration of specific capital items that would be required. We also take exception with several of the assumptions used in the study. The Fiscal Analysis also states that it is not to be used in conjunction with any public or private offering of securities or other similar purpose. In June of 2000, our elected Commissioners signed a Memorandum of Understanding which stated, in part, that “the County will borrow the funds necessary... through the issuance of bonds... to construct ALL off-site improvements” and “the County will borrow, through the issuance of bonds, the funds necessary to pay for the... expansion to the KNSG (sewage) Treatment facility”. These bonds were to be secured by incremental tax revenues and a possible “special taxing/benefit assessment district”. Also, “in addition... the Development Agreement shall specify... the mechanisms for K Hovnanian’s obtaining reimbursement out of the proceeds of the Bonds issued by the County for the construction of the Off-Site Improvements”. Although this agreement expired, we are concerned about the terms of the Development Agreement currently being determined. Another concern is that the cost for a paid local fire/emergency services force, if it would happen to be needed, would be $4 million to $5 million per year.
- Yes, there were several opportunities for the public to provide input on the project, and they did, in large numbers. Many citizens have attended and expressed concern and objections at Planning Commission hearings and at public hearings at Kent Island High School (at least 600 citizens both times). A petition requesting denial of Critical Area growth allocation was signed by 2,198 citizens on November 7th, 2000 and given to our elected Commissioners. Most recently, 4,409 citizens have asked to be heard by signing the Referendum Petition. These inputs have resulted in some change to the plan, but they do not fully address the issues that have been raised.
- The timeliness of the Referendum Petition was dictated by the actions of our elected Commissioners. They introduced the Ordinance in February, but did not pass it until August 21st. Once the Public Notice was published by our elected Commissioners, only 30 days remained to draft, circulate and file the Petition. Over 5 weekends, 20% of the registered voters in the County, more than 4,400 people, signed the petition asking to vote on the Critical Area Growth Allocation. If those citizens had felt the issue was not thought out, or was not timely, or was not justified, they (like you) would not have signed the Petition.
- We also (like you) hope the Circuit Court will decide quickly, and we look forward to voting on the issues in November 2002.
Richard Moser, President
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