Pier construction bill wins Lamb is the only 'no' vote

September 23, 1992|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Staff Writer

The County Council has approved a process that will make it easier for community associations that own waterfront property to construct piers for fishing and swimming.

The bill passed by a 6-1 vote at Monday night's meeting, with Councilwoman Maureen Lamb, D-Annapolis, casting the lone dissenting vote. It clarifies an ordinance adopted last November but set aside and rewritten after some river associations complained about not having their say.

The newer version, which was drafted by Councilwoman Diane R. Evans, R-Arnold, subjects the piers to tough state Critical Area regulations, but grants them a conditional use status, meaning they are approved through the building permit process.

Foes of the bill wanted the piers to be given a special exception designation, which would open the approval process to a public hearing before the administrative hearing officer.

"We are not opposed to little piers. What we are talking about is a process," said Michael Christiansen, president of the Magothy River Association.

"It is not that expensive to have a hearing in front of the administrative hearing officer."

But the dozens of people in the council chambers who supported the bill -- many of them from the Atlantis development in Cape St. Clair, which is fighting in Circuit Court to keep their pier -- disagreed.

A special exception designation would require studies and legal work that smaller communities cannot afford.

"I think this amendment would say that only wealthy communities should be allowed to have piers," said Bob Kramer of the Atlantis community. "I don't think that's fair."

"I was offended by the extreme position the environmentalists took," said Sal Teta of the Cedarlea Community Association, which is located on the West River. "As I see it, this is a conflict between the haves and have-nots. . . . Community organizations will be deprived of the right to use their property in a responsible manner."

Ms. Lamb said she was concerned that the bill did not set any limit on the size of piers, and said nothing about the number of people in the community who will use it.

"I have a big problem with a 300-[square]-foot pier or a 400-foot pier in a community of 38 homes" she said.

She introduced a motion to hold the bill for two weeks while the council addressed these issues. The motion was defeated.

In other action, the council approved an emergency ordinance that will provide $354,450 to hire 12 guards at the detention center and five workers in the jail's rapidly growing work release program.

The detention center is currently 33 percent over capacity. The last 100 beds of the center's new 200-bed addition are to open in January, but the jail will still be 20 percent over capacity if the population remains constant, said Dennis Parkinson, the county's chief administrative officer.

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