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The following article on proposed truck inspection station appeared in the Capital.  You may have also read a similar article in this past week’s Bay Times.  KIDL would like to hear your comments on this Home Land Security initiative.
 

State seeks truck inspection station on Kent Island
By JULIA HOCKENBERRY For The Capital 

Citing the need to improve security around the Bay Bridge, the Maryland Transportation Authority wants to build a truck inspection station on Kent Island. 

Spokesman Bryon Johnston said the MdTA is considering moving one of two weigh stations from the Western Shore bridge to the eastern side.

"It would give us the capability to check trucks, if needed, prior to entering to the bridge from the Eastern Shore," he said.

The issues of bridge safety and truck traffic have long been a concern on both sides of the Chesapeake Bay, but it has been intensified by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Todd Mohn, deputy Queen Anne's County director of public works, said the agency approached the county about the concept.

"They told us that it's related to 9-11, based on the fact that the Bay Bridge is a potential target," he said.

Although the idea is in its infancy, Mr. Johnston said four sites are being considered. He would not disclose the prospective locations.

But it appears that one of them is a portion of 130 acres near Piney Creek Road.

John Wilson, the landowner, said putting a state inspection station there would "ruin" his plans to build the 485-home Gibson's Grant subdivision.

"The state's comment is, 'All we want is 10 acres,' but would you like to live behind a truck stop?" he said. "It would ruin the concept for us."

The state is obligated to pay fair market value if the state takes the property through eminent domain, but that is little comfort to Mr. Wilson.

While county leaders agree routine truck inspections could keep the bridge safe, they have concerns about the potential impact on traffic and the environment.

"That's not what we want there," said Board of Commissioners President Ben Cassell, who added that 
Route 50 traffic is already a headache for Kent Island residents. In 2002, 24.6 million vehicles crossed the Bay Bridge.

"On the island, I don't know where they'd put it. It would be unattractive and a safety hazard on these congested roadways."

Right now, the closest truck inspection station on the eastern side of the Bay Bridge is 43 miles away on Route 301 near Galena in Kent County.

"It's a portable station," said Bob Kiel, assistant district engineer of traffic for the State Highway Administration. "If state police go out there, they have to take a portable scale, and they only use it periodically."

During truck inspections, police examine commercial vehicles and talk with the drivers to determine whether trucks are over the allowed length, weight or height.

Maryland has 11 permanent stations with fixed scales, including two on the Broadneck Peninsula, and seven pull-off locations for mobile crews.

Commissioner Gene Ransom, D-Grasonville, said he is puzzled by the logic of locating such a facility between the Bay Bridge and the Kent Narrows bridge.

"If you're doing this for homeland security, why not put it in a place where you can control both bridges?" he asked.

Heavy truck traffic has been blamed for some of the increased congestion on the bridge, which drivers use to get around Interstate 95 between Washington and the Delaware-New Jersey line.

On the Broadneck Peninsula, residents are angry that tractor-trailer drivers often stop at two gas stations off Busch's Frontage Road near the bridge as an impromptu truck stop.

"They park right on the service road, and you can't see around them," said Nancy Wright, president of the Broadneck Federation.

In 2002, two teens were killed when their sports car crashed into a tractor trailer illegally parked near the base of the Bay Bridge.

Mr. Johnston said if the idea of a Kent Island inspection station progresses, such feedback would be factored into the feasibility of the project.

"We try to look very hard at the impact that anything we do would have on traffic and the community. We would certainly coordinate with Queen Anne's County to take into consideration any concerns," he said.

Published February 2004 , The Capital, Annapolis, Md.
Copyright © 2004 The Capital, Annapolis, Md.



You may write the Commissioners at 107 North Liberty Street, Centreville, MD  21617.  You can also reach them by email at qacc@qac.org.  Individual email addresses are:
 bcassell@qac.orggransom@qac.org  | mkoval@qac.org
jcupani@qac.org  |  rsmith@qac.org


Most of you may remember the Motel 6 and 7 Eleven Gas Station combination proposed for a waterfront site on Winchester Creek.  This project was denied at the time, but as you will see from reading the following, there are changes being proposed by county staff that could allow this project to move forward. 

Jack Thuman owns the Canvas Shop home business that would be right next to this proposed Motel/7 Eleven/Gas Station and he delivered the following testimony at last Tuesday’s Commissioners Meeting.  At their meeting, the County Commissioners voted unanimously not to follow the staff’s recommendation for this single change, but to hold off until the entire Title 14 undergoes a Program Review.

The beginning of Jack’s testimony necessarily contains a lot of detail – but be sure not to miss his comments at the end (which we’ve highlighted).

Tonight, at 6:10, Steve Cohoon is going to propose changing a portion of title 14 that will change the 15% impervious surface limit, in IDA's, to no limit.

According to 8-1809(he)(2)(I) of the MD critical area code, this change can be made "only on proof of a mistake in the existing zoning". Even then, it must follow guidelines that are "elements which are necessary or appropriate

(1)To minimize adverse impacts on water quality.........

(2)To conserve fish, wildlife and plant habitat:and

(3)To establish land use policies for development in the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area which accommodate growth and also address the fact that even if pollution is controlled, the number, movement, and activities of persons in that area can create adverse environmental impacts."

I interpret this to mean that these changes to our title 14 must be needed to correct a mistake and must have a positive impact on the environment. If the need for these changes is not the result of a mistake, they cannot be changed without a "Program Review". If the need for these changes is the result of a mistake, and the changes have a less than positive effect on the environment, they can still only be changed during a "Program Review". Our county has not had a "Program Review" for a very long time,(1996?) even though it is required by state law every four years.

We are breaking the state law by not having a "Program Review" for eight years. Now our zoning office is proposing that we break the state law by changing this one little piece of title 14. This law that is recommended for change, is an impediment to some developers in the commercial areas, primarily.

There are many REAL mistakes in this document.

On the same page as this law that is up for change, (title 14, page 194,14-153)there is an ambiguity that should be changed. How either of these can be called a mistake, when the planning and zoning personnel have been reading it for eight or more years, and not noticed it, is a mystery. 

14-153(co) says,"This section applies only to development or redevelopment within 100 feet of tidal waters"

The very next paragraph 14-153(do)(5) says "Impervious surfaces shall be limited to 15% of the gross site area proposed for development........"

Does this law apply only "within 100 feet of tidal waters" or to "the gross site area proposed for development" or only when the gross site area proposed for development is within 100 feet of tidal waters. Mistakes like this may seem trivial, but they allow the attorneys who wrote them and engineering firms who use them to make lots of money selling our county down the river(literally). That our planning office would allow such shortcoming to exist while fixing the ones the developers do not like shows where the allegiances lie.

Why does our planning office feel that they need to change a law because it is slightly more restrictive than the minimum set forth by the state? Why do they not feel they need to change a law that is certainly not intelligible in it's expressed form? The planning office should protect the interest of the county citizens in general. The developers do a good job of looking out for themselves.

There are many changes to title 14 that are sorely needed. The one that our planning office proposes to change is not one of them. Furthermore, it is illegal to change the law that they wish to change at all, and if it were legal to change, it is not legal to change it in the way they have proposed.

The only correct course of action is to endeavor to have a "Program Review" of our critical area plan as soon as possible. If the population as a whole believes that this plan  is too restrictive, they may change them.  Our people deserve a code that can be clearly interpreted.

As a sidebar to my feelings on this matter, I must own up to my reputation for being energetically opposed to the construction of the 7-Eleven?gas station on Winchester Creek in 2003. This change could allow that development to go forward. That project was recommended to the planning commissioners by the planning office in direct violation of seven or more county laws. This is the third of those seven laws (that I know of) that the planning office has recommended be changed.

If we allow this change to occur, we will be the worse for it. If we allow it to occur without correcting at least some of the real problems in title 14, we deserve the lower standard of life that we our making for ourselves and our children.

Jack Thuman



You may write the Commissioners at 107 North Liberty Street, Centreville, MD  21617.  You can also reach them by email at qacc@qac.org.  Individual email addresses are:
 bcassell@qac.orggransom@qac.org  | mkoval@qac.org
jcupani@qac.org  |  rsmith@qac.org
 
 

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