Federal wetlands permit allowed Residents vow to fight homes in Shady Side

August 09, 1996|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,SUN STAFF

A developer of a proposed 477-acre subdivision on the Shady Side peninsula received a federal permit Wednesday to build on wetlands, but a community group vows it will try again to stop the project at the state and county level.

The Franklin Pointe/Baldwin's Choice subdivision would occupy the last large tract on the peninsula that fronts the Chesapeake Bay. Pointe Properties wants to build 158 single-family homes on 3-acre lots.

The project will destroy 2 acres of the 345 acres of wetlands near the site, but the developer has promised to create new wetlands to replace the affected area and another 4.8 acres previously disturbed by farming, said Doug Garmon, a spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers, which issued the federal permit.

"As far as the Corps is concerned, [the project] doesn't have an adverse impact on the environment," said Garmon.

The land includes the former Deep Creek Airport and more than 300 acres of nontidal marshes. It has attracted developers since a new sewer line became available in the mid-1980s and the land was rezoned for residential development.

Franklin Point Limited Partnership acquired the property in 1986, but fell on hard times and the project languished. Meanwhile, state regulations to preserve nontidal marshes took effect Jan. 1, 1991. The developer revived and revised plans in December 1990. Pointe Properties bought out Franklin Point when it was dissolved in 1993.

South Arundel Citizens for Responsible Development, argued that Pointe should not

be grandfathered under the old plans for development because its state application for a permit to develop wetlands wasn't filed until 1994, said Quentin Banks, a Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) spokesman.

The MDE has not made a decision on the permit, Banks said.

Objections discounted

Kathryn Dahl, the lawyer for Pointe Properties, dismissed the residents' objections.

"Properties change hands through development all the time, and we found nothing in the regulations that would prevent us from putting in a new name," Dahl said. "It wouldn't make sense for people to start over because land changed hands."

The state Board of Public Works, which votes on wetlands permits, postponed a July 31 hearing on the project to allow board members to tour the site Sept. 9. The board has not set a date for a formal hearing.

Residents say they will oppose the plan at that hearing and when the plan comes up for county subdivision approval.

"The reason that residents are so up in arms about it is it's going to be a huge impact on this tiny peninsula," said Jim Foster, an environmental consultant for residents.

Foster has lived for 10 years in Cedarhurst on the Bay -- about 1 1/2 miles from the development.

Foster and area residents say they fear that the additional development would add more traffic to crowded Shady Side Road, the peninsula's only link to the rest of the county.

They also are concerned about the impact of adding more students to crowded schools and a development in an environmentally sensitive area.

"We're starting to eat away at these large contiguous tracts of undeveloped lands and we need those large tracts of undeveloped land so we can maintain ecological health," said Andrew Garth, Foster's business partner.

Pub Date: 8/09/96

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