Speakout

January 28, 2007

ISSUE: -- The Navy has begun accepting lease offers for an 857-acre former dairy farm in Gambrills, formally making available the pastoral tract for a state horse park, a mining operation, an organic farm or other uses.

The Navy received expressions of interest from six parties early last year, including one from the Maryland Stadium Authority, which seeks to open a state-run equestrian center featuring a visitors center, a museum, a climate-controlled equestrian show ring with 2,500 fixed seats and stables for 840 horses.

The other initial proposals were from Chaney Enterprises and Reliable Contracting Co. Inc., which have a joint proposal to create a sand-and-gravel mine; Maryland Sunrise Farms LLC, the current leaseholder of the Gambrills property; Chesterfield Farms, a Crofton-based operation that also wants to maintain an organic farm; and the Halle Cos., which has not elaborated on its plans. Which project should the Navy select?

Organic farm would benefit community

There should be no issue here: The property should be maintained as a farm to preserve its beauty and to serve as a buffer against the ever-growing sprawl in that area.

Both the proposed equestrian center and mining operation would fundamentally change the property and the nature of the surrounding area and would bring traffic, noise and more air pollution, but an organic farm would benefit the community in both tangible and intangible ways.

Preserving open space should be a priority, as it serves a greater public purpose and is an investment in the future.

Julie Ross Davidsonville

Equestrian center would save land

I submit a hearty vote for the state-run equestrian center, which will be an asset to the county and preserve much of the land.

Maryland has a rich heritage in horse racing, dating back to the early colonial days. The equestrian center will help preserve this heritage and provide equestrian opportunities for its citizens.

Will Mumford Annapolis

Horse, mine plans cause concern

The Stadium Authority proposal would provide traffic congestion on a two-lane road, does not adequately consider the pollution consequences of housing over 800 horses and offers no significant return or service to taxpayers for the funds invested.

Another ill-advised MDSA 30-year lease proposal would be an entitlement for the equestrian set.

As for the sand-and-gravel mine proposal, again, the traffic issues are not resolved.

How does the operation propose to comply with the 10,000-pound gross vehicle weight limit on the road? Further congestion on this road, which is a primary route to the train station and schools, is not acceptable.

Noise dirt and runoff are a major concern from these large dump trucks and the loading equipment on and off site.

How about an organic farm center in Odenton? David's (Organic) Market is adjacent to the site. This precious farmland should remain and be used for the benefit of the community. Apple orchards once thrived in the area and several farm businesses are still operating along the road.

Tony Karwoski Crownsville

Horse park would add value to area

Since moving to Anne Arundel County from Michigan I have had to adjust to the hustle and bustle of living in the DC/Baltimore area.

Thankfully my husband, a 2006 Naval Academy graduate, and I found our piece of heaven in the Crownsville-Gambrills area. The news that the dairy farm, which is just up the road, could potentially turn into a horse park gives me more reason to stay in the area.

A horse park would add value to our neighborhood and would provide a serene environment for the community as a whole.

I can't wait until the project becomes a reality.

Brandi Bishop Crownsville

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