Of Property Rights, Woodlands And Streams

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

January 31, 1993

I would like to comment on your editorial "In search of environmental vision" (Jan. 6). Your view, typical of environmental critics, lacks depth in the understanding of the real issues and only examines the surface ones.

Anne Arundel County's Critical Area Program is not "lenient" and does not have a "loose environmental policy." In fact, it is more stringent than Critical Area Regulations require.

For example, the use of structural erosion control devices is disallowed if the erosion rate is less than 2 feet per year. The state allows it in such cases. Variance language is more restrictive, and lacks required state edicts, thus intimidating permit applicants. A county Zoning Hearing Officer has stated publicly that he doesn't want applicants to believe they can use variances to get around the laws. This un-democratic attitude by Anne Arundel County officials should be explored by the press.

Grandfathering is not "vague," it is fair. You must allow progress. . . . Grandfathering should be allowed in the buffer as well. It is not allowed in Maryland's Critical Area criteria. But these same criteria have 15 instances where it is required that construction must improve and enhance the environment.

It is more important that County Executive Robert Neall show broad-minded leadership than to be a single-purpose environmental leader. Hopefully, other counties will not use Anne Arundel County as a "standard." Its Critical Area Program is poorly written, and officials resist requests to change it. . . .

Instead of hammering county administration, why don't you publish an investigative series on property rights vs. environmental laws? You will surely discover that Maryland's Critical Area Law and Criteria are abusive to landowners, large and small.

Roy Kampmeyer

Severna Park

The writer is president of the Maryland Waterfront Landowners Association.

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Apparently the ecological theme of "Think Globally, Act Locally," has little meaning to Anne Arundel Community College. Recently, the junior college has deforested approximately 12 acres of a locally significant woodland. . . . This ecologically insensitive act has occurred at a time when local papers have highlighted the runaway development on the Broadneck Peninsula and lack of, and need for, greenways.

Why was this woodland important? It served as critical habitat for neo-tropical migratory birds, such as the cardinals, warblers, thrushes and orioles that we enjoy at our feeders and in our yards. These birds are on a severe population decline. They require contiguous forest cover to successfully nest and raise their broods. Deforestation for development is a major cause of their decline in the East.

The woodland served as a refuge for other forest dwelling wildlife, a center for bio-diversity in a rapidly urbanized area. It was the watershed for several small streams that make their way to the Magothy River. And, it provided a sanctuary for people. . . .

z With acres of already cleared open space available around existing buildings, parking lots and playing fields, the junior college choose to clear more precious forested land to place its new buildings. By doing so, it ignored the needs of the environment, including the community it is supposed to serve.

It is altogether appropriate that the college's "Environmental Studies" center is located in a barn: It reflects the level of the

college's environmental sensitivity and ethics.

Rob Mrowka

Arnold

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Maryland Save Our Streams wishes to thank all of its Anne Arundel County volunteers for their efforts to protect local streams and creeks in 1992.

For the volunteers who organized and participated in last May's Stoney, Cox and Nabbs Creek Stream Survey, it's important to know that follow-up efforts have begun. Several volunteer clean-ups along targeted sites have already taken place. Government agencies, such as the county Health Department and Department of Utilities, were also quick to review and respond to the findings.

The work of volunteers who participated in stream surveys along several tributaries in the Patuxent River watershed has resulted in the completion of a final report which awaits follow-up action by citizens, government and business.

Active volunteers and volunteer committees continue to meet in the Severn River and Sawmill Creek watersheds, organizing stream clean-ups, staffing information tables and looking at ways to involve others in the effort to protect water quality.

Finally, more than 100 people participated in a fall clean-up along Patapsco Valley State Park. The volunteers who organized this activity proved that much can be accomplished when citizens, business and government work together.

Maryland Save Our Streams applauds the efforts of these groups, and extends New Year's greetings to all of our Anne Arundel County volunteers. Keep up the fantastic work in 1993!

Jonathan Pearson

Glen Burnie

The writer is a member of Maryland Save Our Streams.

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