Huge Severn River boathouse approved despite local protest CENTRAL COUNTY -- Arnold * Broadneck * Severna Park * Crownsville * Millersville

April 08, 1993|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff Writer

A Severn River homeowner has won state approval for a three-story boathouse despite neighbors' objections that it would mar the waterway's scenic vista.

Yesterday's approval comes on the eve of a statewide ban on new boathouses, whose growing numbers, state officials have said, could alter the character of a waterway.

"Obviously, we're not crazy about them, but we felt we couldn't" deny a boathouse request before the prohibition goes into effect in May, said Frank Dawson, chief of the state Department of Natural Resources' Tidal Wetlands Division.

The boathouse proposed by Dr. William J. Cirksena is one of many approved in recent months. In fact, the state has never denied a boathouse in the past, Mr. Dawson said.

But, because of its size -- roughly the equivalent of eight advertising billboards -- and its placement at the mouth of Clements Creek, Dr. Cirksena's boathouse has been the object of intense scrutiny.

The Severn River Association and other neighborhood groups have said that approval violates the state Scenic and Wild Rivers Act, which they say protects the Severn from unsightly development.

"This pulls the rug right out from under" the 1971 law, which designated the Severn and eight others as "scenic rivers," said association President James Martin, whose group represents over 100 neighborhoods in the river's watershed.

Dr. Cirksena, a kidney specialist who lives in Downs on the Severn, sought approval in 1991 for a Quonset-style structure that would shelter his 46-year-old, all-wood yacht from the weather. The 80-foot vessel -- which has three bedrooms, a stateroom, galley and separate crew's quarters -- is one of the first two yachts built by the renowned Trumpy and Son Yacht Yard in Eastport.

With the DNR's guidance, Dr. Cirksena redesigned the structure to resemble a more traditional boathouse with tongue-in-groove siding and an A-frame roof, Mr. Dawson said. The new design would be 100 feet long, 42 feet wide and 34 feet high, he said.

The doctor is pleased by the state's approval, said his wife, Molly. But, she added, the boathouse might never be built. Dr. Cirksena proposed the Quonset-hut style building because, for about $30,000, it was relatively inexpensive, she said.

The new design promises to be more expensive. If it costs too much, the family will have to sell the boat, which they have spent more than 10 years restoring, Mrs. Cirksena said.

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