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1000 Friends of Maryland is a statewide nonprofit group committed to place-based and community-based solutions to difficult development problems.  Our mission is threefold: to promote healthy neighborhoods, to preserve the agricultural way of life, and to encourage environmental stewardship.

Several weeks ago, members of our board met with representatives of Four Seasons, to go over their plan.  We have actually been very appreciative of the developer’s willingness to communicate about their ideas, and hope to maintain an ongoing dialogue with them over time.  That being said, it is important for us to express the genuine concerns that we have about this project.

Four Seasons will contain 1,350 single-family homes.  That means that we’re talking about a population at least the size of Centreville, where 888 families now live, with a total population of 2,100 people.  That’s a huge project.  I want to focus on the differences between the two places.

Centreville is a small, intimate, beautiful rural village.  Four Seasons will have buildings scattered across the landscape in a way that is inconsistent with the traditional rural village character of the Eastern Shore.  It will look like Anywhere, USA.

In Centreville, you can walk to the Post Office.  In Four Seasons, you’d have to drive, because everything is car oriented.  Villages are not car-oriented.  They are people-oriented.

In Centreville, there’s lots of ways in and out of town.  But at Four Seasons, everyone has to pass through one gate on one road.  The result is called a bottleneck.  It’s not that hard to figure out when you look at a map.

In Centreville, anyone can go down to the Corsica whenever they want.  In Four Seasons, only residents will be allowed to see the water, much less access it.

In Centreville, there’s even a public trail, where average citizens can go for a long walk in the woods.  At Four Seasons, all of the trails are private, and none of them will even connect to the Cross Island Trail, which is literally being built right next door.

In fact, come to think of it, on a fundamental level, anyone can go to Centreville.  There’s even a park to sit in.  But Four Seasons will be a gated community.  The public is not invited.  (Not that they’d want to go there anyway, given all of the above).

A growth allocation of this magnitude should be used wisely, to maximize everyone’s benefit.  The current Four Seasons plan does not make good use of this beautiful shoreline area.  It reproduces an upscale New Jersey development, on a Critical Area, in the heart of the Eastern Shore.  This may be Growth, but it is far from Smart.

Thank you very much for your consideration of this matter.

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