Dobbins Island project blocked

Housing plan denied for environmental reasons

`We have drawn the line'

County official rejects plans for house on Dobbins Island

July 20, 2005|By Phillip McGowan | Phillip McGowan,SUN STAFF

A Glen Burnie businessman cannot build a 5,000-square-foot house on an island in the Magothy River that he bought last year, an Anne Arundel County official has ruled, citing numerous environmental concerns.

The ruling against David L. Clickner Sr. leaves the future of Dobbins Island in doubt.

Environmentalists who successfully fought his petition for variances to build a home and pier access to the island praised the decision, which was released Friday by administrative hearing officer Stephen M. LeGendre.

"I am unable to find that the granting of the variances would not be detrimental to the public welfare," LeGendre said.

Paul Spadaro, president of the Magothy River Association, said he hoped the ruling would stop an eroding of the state's critical-area laws, which restrict building on environmentally sensitive coastal land.

"We feel we have drawn the line," Spadaro said.

Spadaro also expressed hope that the island, if rendered inhabitable, could be turned into parkland, a notion that county and state officials have previously rejected.

Clickner bought the land near Pasadena in October for $825,000 and sought variances to build a house in the buffer area -- within 100 feet of the shoreline -- and two piers that would be longer than allowed, one extending from the island and one from the nearby mainland.

He has yet to decide whether he will appeal the ruling, said his attorney, Harry C. Blumenthal, who added that he thinks a smaller home might be acceptable.

"The question is how large a house is one entitled to on a 7-acre island of this sort," Blumenthal said. "The hearing officer denied the variance, but not outright, [so it] seemed to suggest he should reduce the size of the house he was asking for."

LeGendre's ruling marked the conclusion of a nine-month fight -- spread over three hearings -- between Clickner and environmentalists over the island.

The environmentalists said that construction on the island's numerous steep slopes would have increased the rate of erosion on the island, potentially compromising habitat in the watershed. Clickner countered that he planned to invest about $1 million in shoring up the island, in addition to the cost of building a home there.

Questions about the exact location of the proposed house and shoreline concerns raised by the state's Critical Area Commission led to the postponement of a ruling in November and February.

In May, Clickner's team of lawyers and engineers proposed a new footprint for the island, and environmentalists voiced their concerns during a hearing that lasted seven hours.

Sun staff writer Grant Huang contributed to this article.

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