Letters to the Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

November 16, 2003

Bog protection plan hurt by amendment

On Nov. 3, the Anne Arundel County Council passed an amendment to the Bog Protection Program to allow family conveyance subdivisions. It was obvious the bill's sponsor, Councilman Ronald Dillon, knew nothing about the history of this legislation. Claiming lack of communication to property owners on the Mountain Road Peninsula justified this amendment could not be further from the truth.

I introduced the first draft of the Bog Protection Bill No. 105-01 on Dec. 3, 2001, after many months of meetings with the bog committee members consisting of county, state and federal agencies to protect nine of the remaining 14 bogs in Maryland on the Mountain Road Peninsula.

These fragile bogs, estimated to be approximately 11 million years old, are nature's kidneys of the Chesapeake, filtering storm water runoff before it reaches the bay; 80 percent of these bogs had already been destroyed by development. Few people knew they existed, including me.

I knew that educating the property owners on the importance of their survival was crucial for passage of this bill. Letters were sent to all of the community associations and property owners. Public meetings were held. The local newspapers gave generous coverage at all these meetings.

Detailed maps were available at the Mountain Road Library. This issue was also the topic of discussions at the monthly Greater Pasadena Council meetings (an umbrella council of community associations) in Pasadena.

Future improvements on existing structures and platted lots were exempt from most restrictions provided that the property owners maximized the distance to minimize the impact on the bogs. Keith Underwood from the Severn River Association and I spent many hours touring properties with owners, for guidance on future improvements.

Exempting family conveyance subdivisions were opposed by the bog committee and the majority of the property owners because historically it is abused and ends up with the developers. This was explained in great detail, many times, with Mrs. Hilliard and her family.

Three public hearings were held. Every citizen's concerns were addressed. The only opposition was one developer and Mrs. Hilliard. After 14 months and three public hearings, Mrs. Hilliard could not garner enough support to defeat the bill. The majority of the property owners were convinced that the benefits far outweighed the restrictions, and were pleased with another tool to control the growth.

Now let's address Mr. Dillon's amendment. This bill was introduced on Oct. 7, 2003, and passed on Nov. 3, 2003. I was surprised when our County Executive, Ms. Owens, and Councilmen Beidle and Burlison supported this amendment. The only opposing vote was Ms. Samorajczyk, who co-sponsored Bill No. 105-02.

Shirley Murphy

Pasadena

The writer is a former Anne Arundel County Council member, 3rd District.

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