A handful of Chesapeake Beach residents showed up at a public hearing Monday afternoon to protest Mayor Gerald Donovan's request for a license to fill in an eroded section of the beach area near his Rod 'N Reel restaurant.
Residents told state Public Works and Department of the Environment officials that they are worried about damage to the waterfront area's natural habitat, although a representative from the Army Corps of Engineers said the mayor's project poses no significant threat to the summer flounder and bluefish found there.
Environmentalist Susan Hanes said that the state and local agencies involved have not been forthcoming with information. Hanes also questioned Donovan's bigger plans for the area--a new hotel is in the works, but Donovan has kept details of his private business plans to himself.
Hanes complained that the Corps-issued report has remained "hidden from the public." The engineers disagreed, saying their findings will be available to residents after state officials approve the report.
"This is just a way to get approval for the hotel without any environmental review," Hanes argued at the meeting.
Donovan is seeking a Tidal Wetlands License, which would allow him to use dredged sand to fill a crescent-shaped eroded area that is 150 feet long and 57 feet wide. Donovan maintained that his business operates in full compliance with state environmental regulations and pointed out that he had called the day's public hearing on advice from an official at the Maryland Department of the Environment.
"There will never be a private approval of anything," Donovan said. "We have nothing to hide from anybody."
Donovan said future public hearings will address the specifics of his planned hotel. It will be several weeks before state officials decide whether to approve Donovan's wetlands license.
Charles Towns Want Economic Vote
Charles County has two incorporated towns, La Plata and Indian Head, and both want a bigger voice in economic development. And not just a voice, but full voting power on the Charles County Economic Development Commission.
Each town's council passed a resolution earlier this month urging that room be made on the EDC for one voting membership to represent the two municipalities.
The towns say their residents, like other county residents, are "fully deserving of any tax relief by the development of a broader, multidimensional, sustainable tax base."
Commissioners Take to the Road
The Charles County commissioners are mounting a road show that will take them to four different sites for town meetings during the first two weeks of December.
There is a meeting scheduled in each of the commissioner election districts. Starting time for each will be 7 p.m.
The meetings, according to an announcement from the commissioners office, will include a presentation by the commissioners of the major issues confronting the county, as well as any issue specific to the particular election district.
The schedule and location of the meetings:
* Dec. 6, Nanjemoy Community Center, 4375 Port Tobacco Rd. This is for the 2nd commissioner district, which includes Bryans Road, Indian Head, Nanjemoy and White Plains.
* Dec. 7, Richard R. Clark Senior Center, 1210 E. Charles St., La Plata. This is for the 1st commissioner district, which includes La Plata, Port Tobacco, Bel Alton, Allens Fresh, Newburg and Cobb Island.
* Dec. 13, Militia Room at the Waldorf Jaycees Center on Route 301 in Waldorf. This is for the 3rd commissioner district, which includes Waldorf, Malcolm, Hughesville, Bryantown and Benedict.
* Dec. 14, Wakefield Community Center, 2002 Nantucket Dr., Waldorf. This is for the 4th commissioner district, which includes the St. Charles community.
People attending the sessions will have a chance to offer their comments.
Levy Knows a Thing or Two
Charles County commissioners on Tuesday were scheduled to meet with the president of the Maryland Association of Counties.
That was easy to do. He just switched seats.
Board of Commissioners President Murray D. Levy (D-At Large) on Dec. 2 ends his year as president of the counties association. As his tenure closes, he is visiting county governments to give a preview of legislation that may affect them in the General Assembly session that begins in January.
Levy also visited St. Mary's County and Calvert County commissioners on Tuesday. That took a bit of traveling. But in Charles County, he simply moved to the witness table as the board's vice president, Commissioner Marland Deen (R-Waldorf), took over the meeting.
"It's really interesting to be on this side of the table," Levy said. "It's not bad. The chairs are comfortable. Everybody's smiling."