North Point park plan appeal denied

February 20, 1993|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,Staff Writer

A Baltimore County judge ruled yesterday that a coalition of community groups cannot appeal a decision allowing the state to build a waterfront park on the Chesapeake Bay.

Judge James T. Smith Jr. said a 1991 public hearing the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Commission held on the new North Point State Park wasn't the kind of contested proceeding, with sworn testimony and cross-examination, that entitles the loser to go to court.

After a brief argument by Thomas B. Eastman, attorney for the Coalition to Preserve Black Marsh, Judge Smith granted Assistant Attorney General Pamela D. Andersen's motion to dismiss the group's lawsuit against the state Department of Natural Resources.

"The whole point of the Critical Area law was to protect the buffer around the Chesapeake Bay," coalition member Ajax Eastman said after the decision. "The state should serve as an example."

Ms. Eastman and other coalition members favor a natural park.

In December 1991, the commission approved DNR's plan to develop about 20 acres of the 1,310-acre site in Edgemere. The site of the old Bay Shore amusement park is one of the last large tracts of public land on the waterfront.

Initial plans called for a small amphitheater, a two-story visitors center to sleep 40 students, two picnic pavilions and a parking lot.

Although intense lobbying and thousands of signatures filed by the coalition did not stop the development or move it away from the water, there were modifications such as relocating the parking lot and reducing the size of the amphitheater and the number of boat slips.

After yesterday's hearing, Mr. Eastman and members of the coalition said they must decide whether to appeal the decision to a higher court or to file a new action at the trial-court level, attacking the commission's regulations as illegal and in conflict with state law.

Charging that those regulations give the state favorable treatment no private developer would receive, Mr. Eastman said, "Our point is: It doesn't make any difference who is polluting the bay."

Richard C. Pollock Sr., coalition president, said, "We're disappointed with today's outcome."

Polly Wirth, a coordinator for the 1,100-member coalition of about 50 groups, was equally disappointed.

"They're saying they want the park to teach people about the Chesapeake Bay and in order to get them there, you have to hoodwink them with the hot dogs and the bricks," she said. "But people appreciate nature and value it. . . . They are willing to sacrifice the hot dogs and walk a little way down to the water."

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