September 03, 2006

Last week's issue: -- Amid mounting criticism of a proposed Wal-Mart in Crofton, the state has agreed to hold a public hearing on the project.

The Maryland Department of the Environment is not required to hold a forum as part of its consideration of a license that would allow Wal-Mart to bury wetlands near the Little Patuxent River, but an agency spokeswoman said the MDE was trying to be responsive to the community.

Civic leaders said they want to summon enough opposition over environmental concerns at the forum to kill the proposed 143,000-square-foot store on 20 acres along Route 3. They have not been swayed by the retailer's recent offer to trim the size of the store by as much as 20 percent.

Should the MDE grant a license allowing Wal-Mart to bury wetlands and build a new store?

Issue requires public forum

Of course there should be a public forum discussing the disturbance of wetlands in Crofton in order to build a Wal-Mart.

The proposed alteration is irreversible. Breadths of disturbance to the ecosystem, volume of runoff, source of freshwater supplies and sewage disposal are communitywide concerns.

During simple rainfalls, flooding is occurring on state roadways and in neighborhoods more often. Why? Local rivers are deteriorating, damaging sewer spills occur more often.

With all the laws on the books, how come Maryland families are being displaced and property damaged due to storm water runoff from new construction?

It is the core responsibility of the Department of the Environment to use the best science and practices available to serve and protect the public. Experience tells us that what looks compliant on building applications is often contradicted by reality. And no one knows the neighborhood like those who live there.

Information gathering begins with visiting the site and talking with the locals - tasks that should be mandatory, not voluntary for MDE professionals.

Maryellen O. Brady


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