Late last month, Montgomery County issued a $1,000 fine to Robert J. Stevens, the chief executive of Lockheed Martin. Federal park police have opened a criminal investigation into whether the tree-cutting in the Merry-Go-Round Farm community also violated a federal easement designed to protect the canal, the river and scenic vistas.
And environmentalists said they were enraged that another large swath of trees has been cut down.
“This is outrageous,” said Dolores Milmoe of the Audubon Naturalist Society in Chevy Chase. “Once again, people of great wealth feel entitled that they can just end run the permitting process or not get permits.”
Stevens, 61, whose 2011 compensation package totaled $25.3 million, paid the county’s fine and, through his attorney, said he regretted not getting approval and will work to restore the land. After the June 29 derecho, which damaged many of the trees on his property, Stevens hired an arborist and a landscaping company “to remove downed limbs and uprooted trees,” his attorney, Chuck Rosenberg, a former federal prosecutor, said in a prepared statement.
“He did this to make a very dangerous situation safe, particularly for the people who walk and ride horses on the trails that cross his property,” the statement said. “He did not do this to enhance his view to the canal; he did not have a view of the canal before the storm, and he does not have a view of the canal now. Mr. Stevens regrets that he did not request proper authorization for the actions he took and he willingly paid a fine to the county. He is now working closely with officials to remediate the land and restore its natural beauty.”
Stevens has been head of Lockheed Martin, a defense contractor based in Bethesda, for more than eight years. He is slated to step down in December. His compensation package makes him the second-highest-paid aerospace executive in the nation, according to Forbes magazine. He is the third-highest-paid CEO in the Washington region.
His Merry-Go-Round Farm mansion, assessed at $2.74 million in 2010, is about two miles upstream from Snyder’s estate and sits above the C&O Canal. Like many properties near the 185-mile-long canal and towpath, Stevens’s estate is in a protected, scenic easement overseen by the National Park Service, which generally bars certain landscaping work and tree-cutting without prior approval.
Montgomery’s planning agency also fined the Merry-Go-Round Farm homeowners association $1,000, which the group is contesting, a county official said. County planning officials now say that based on a recent meeting with Stevens, he may be solely responsible for all of the illegal cutting, including on others’ property.