A controversial Navy proposal to place 21 permanent buoys in a quiet Severn River cove near Annapolis is likely to be withdrawn and revised, apparently ending a dispute with hundreds of waterfront residents, according to a Navy spokesman.
The angry Anne Arundel County residents went to a meeting with Navy officials last week to protest the plan, which they said would have posed a safety threat to boaters and water skiers. The buoys were intended to mark the location of hurricane moorings that the Navy plans to place in the river, where for more than 30 years it has anchored its training vessels during storms.
The alternative under study would replace the buoys with nylon lines tethered to a single buoy. Navy crews could use the lines to locate the heavy moorings in the event of a storm.
Naval spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Stephen Clawson said Friday that Naval Station commander Capt. James B. Bonds told the residents that he was "looking at revising" the proposals and would consider the alternative "trotline" method, which was suggested by the residents.
"It certainly should satisfy everyone and not be harmful," said Herald Harbor Citizens Association President Freda Brenner of the alternative proposal. The original plan, she said, "was bad for boating and quite a danger for skiers and swimmers. We didn't feel it was necessary."
In stormy weather, the Navy moves its 20 Yard Patrol vessels, used to train midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy, from the mouth of the Severn to quieter water upriver, where on-board anchors have been adequate. But recently, the Navy has used larger, 108-foot boats, and during a recent storm, several vessels dragged their anchors.
That prompted the Navy to submit three proposals to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which has authority over inland waterways. The proposals called for placing 21 anchors, attached by chains to large plastic buoys, in Little Round Bay or Sullivan's Cove, or split between the two locations.
The Army Engineeers opened a 30-day public notice period, during which the community protest surfaced. The comment period officially ended Thursday. Monday, a meeting with Navy officials was held, drawing about 200 community residents, according to Brenner.
"We're taxpayers. We pay for the boats, and we feel we pay for the waterfront," she said. " The proposal put us in a bind."
Harold Kanarek, an Army Engineers spokesman, said, "It's probable the Navy will resubmit a proposal. It's also possible there will be future public hearings."
He said community residents who attended the meeting will be notified when the Army Engineers opens its new public notice period.