2 communities at odds over proposal to build 23-slip marina on creek

October 24, 1996|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

Bruce Googins understands that residents of Belvoir Farms want to be able to keep their boats on nearby Manderes Creek. It's just that he doesn't think they should be able to build a 23-slip community marina on environmentally sensitive land to do it.

But Robert A. Shade, who lives in Belvoir Farms, is tired of driving 45 minutes to a marina on Kent Island to get to his 38-foot power boat. He would be "overjoyed" to have a marina only a few miles from home, he says.

Both men will be closely monitoring a Board of Appeals hearing tonight on a request by the Belvoir Farms Homeowners Association Inc. for a variance to build the marina on 12.7 acres at the head of the creek.

The request has strained relations among residents of Belvoir Farms and Bayberry Hills, tony communities on the south shore of the Severn River.

"What they're really upset about is that they got theirs and don't want us to have ours," said Thomas J. Quinn, president of Belvoir Farms Homeowners Association. "We'd like to be able to access the water and use it for boating."

Googins, who lives in Bayberry Hills where 24 of the 25 homeowners have private piers, said his group has "no complaints with [Belvoir Farms] building something as long as it is within the guidelines of the planning and zoning codes in this area."

"What we're opposed to is a request for a variance and special exception to Anne Arundel County zoning laws."

The site, which has four building lots on the 12.7 acres, is adjacent to Bayberry Hills. It already has a pier and a boat ramp and several mooring balls have been placed in the creek for the use of Belvoir Farms residents.

But it lies within the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area, and has been classified as a Resource Conservation Area. Maryland's Critical Area Law requires the number of slips to equal the number of lots.

Quinn said residents of his community want the additional slips to accommodate the 25 Belvoir Farms homeowners who keep their boats in marinas in Annapolis or on the Eastern Shore.

"Four is hard to distribute," he said. "We just want to make it a meaningful waterfront amenity for our community."

Belvoir Farms applied for a variance and special exception to build the marina, as well as a waiver for a driveway that would be 15 feet narrower than the required 24 feet.

In May, Robert C. Wilcox, the county's administrative hearing officer, rejected the application, ruling that the association did not demonstrate members would suffer an unnecessary hardship if they could not have the slips. He also noted that a study by the state Department of the Environment indicated that the docked boats would block sunlight to the underwater vegetation.

Bayberry Hills residents also say that allowing the project could set a dangerous precedent by granting waterfront privileges to nonwaterfront communities.

"Our greatest fear is that it would set a precedent that would open the door to other developers within the county to take similar pie-shaped pieces of land and basically start peppering waterfront communities with marinas," said Googins, who pointed out that Belvoir Farms boaters could use Smith's Marina, less than a mile up the river.

But Quinn said that marina is booked. And Shade said he would "prefer to have the boat in a slip that is part of the Belvoir Farms complex."

In an effort to get the waiver, Belvoir Farms has promised to relinquish any right to develop the four existing lots and to donate a 42-acre parcel of forest adjacent to the community along the river to the Severn River Land Trust.

And an environmental consultant hired by Belvoir Farms reported that the horned pondweed in the shallow banks of the creek would be minimally affected by the number of boats that would be docked at the marina.

The hearing is set for 6: 30 p.m. in the County Council chambers at on the first floor of the Arundel Center, 44 Calvert St. in Annapolis.

Pub Date: 10/24/96

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