• April 28, 2016

Eco-park bad for county - MyEasternShoreMD: Editorial

Eco-park bad for county

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Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 2:00 am

Putting aside arguments as to whether the Four Seasons development will be good or bad for Kent Island, consider for a moment the developer’s latest proposal to give up some of the property for what is being referred to as an “eco-park.”

The 131-acre ecological park that developer K. Hovnanian now proposes could cost the county over $2.1 million, according to Queen Anne’s County Department of Public Works staff members, who presented their findings to the county commissioners Sept. 10.

Earlier plans called for 131 acres, referred to as the Tanner Property, to contain 271 single family houses. In the latest agreement, K. Hovnanian would instead sell the property for $1 to the county to be used for park or public recreation, protection of natural resources and open space.

In return for the property, K. Hovnanian would be relieved of several costly obligations set forth in the original Developer’s Rights and Responsibilities Agreement.

Public Works Director Todd Mohn said the county would lose nearly $3 million under the new agreement. Part of that number is offset by projected savings of $783,641 to arrive at the $2.1 million figure.

The county has already spent about $1 million on the construction of a new 1,500 gpm well into the Lower Patapsco aquifier at the Chesapeake Bay Business Park. And there are other improvements the county has already paid for that the developer earlier had agreed to finance, Mohn said.

Some savings would occur with the proposed changes, such as $14,346 annually from not having to perform road maintenance and $46,000 annually for bridge maintenance, Mohn said.

The bridge planned over Cox Creek to the Tanner Property has been removed in the latest proposal, so has a dock that would have served those houses.

Of course, the public should recall the bridge and the dock both involved disturbing wetlands and were major sticking points with the State Board of Public Works. What is Four Seasons really giving up? Sounds more like the developer is writing his own sweet deal at the expense of taxpayers.

When nearby Gibson’s Grant created a conservation area as part of its development, it partnered with the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center, a local nonprofit. It donated the property to CBEC, which maintains the property — and the two even host events together.

The county didn’t take ownership, and it certainly didn’t erase millions of dollars of obligations set forth in the Developer’s Rights and Responsibilities Agreement.

The eco-park is a bad deal for the county. The commissioners should make the developer go back to the drawing board and come up with another plan.

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