The most outspoken critic of a proposed waterfront development at Swan Point abruptly withdrew his objections late last week, clearing the way for a less contentious Charles County Planning Commission meeting tomorrow night.
Bradford Ross, who helped collect more than 1,000 signatures to rein in the plans, signed an agreement to support the Villages of Swan Point, which could include 1,500 homes, a 300-slip marina, a hotel and a conference center.
Brookfield Homes, the lead developer, and U.S. Steel, which owns the land that the development would be built on, "have addressed our issues, and we hope the county will move swiftly in approving the community," Ross said.
Ross declared victory Friday because, he said, developers have agreed to limit the height of buildings to the tree line and maintain a 100-foot buffer along Cuckold Creek.
As part of the agreement, the developers will work with Charles County to request an alternative location for the discharge from a new wastewater treatment plant. The proposal to move the pipe from Cuckold Creek to the Potomac River would have to be approved by the Maryland Department of the Environment.
"We went in to clean the water, and we have made a positive and significant change to what was planned," Ross said of the agreement, which was signed by the Banks O'Dee Citizens Association and Mike Sullivan, a local landowner.
"We have enlightened the county and made it very clear to U.S. Steel that the people of the area will not tolerate dirty water," Ross said.
The agreement was a surprising twist because Ross had led an aggressive effort through the Cobb Neck Conservation Alliance to limit the project and threatened to take the developers to court. Ross lives in a historic home across Cuckold Creek from Swan Point and worried that the development would diminish his view and the water quality.
As late as Tuesday, Ross was meeting with neighbors to strategize for tomorrow's Planning Commission hearing.
"I was shocked,'' said Joe Martin, a Swan Point resident who worked for the Cobb Neck alliance. "He was adamant, and it is very foolish to compromise now. It just doesn't make any sense. He gave up a lot'' by dropping his opposition to a development that could bring thousands of people to Cobb Neck.
Charles County planners have raised questions about the impact of the development on bald eagles and blue herons and about the excavation of a lagoon for the marina. Planners have also recommended scaling back the number of piers.
The Planning Commission will consider the proposal and comments from the public at 6 p.m. tomorrow in the auditorium of the County Government Building in La Plata.