Town officials discuss Bay bridge into Kent County
CHESTERTOWN — The possibility of a Chesapeake Bay bridge into Kent County, which drew a firestorm of protest at an informational session Jan. 25, was a topic for discussion Monday night at the meeting of the Chestertown Mayor and Council. Fourth Ward Councilman Marty Stetson said he followed the suggestion of protestors and made a donation to the Kent Conservation and Preservation Alliance, which is leading the fight against a Bay crossing, and penned a letter to Heather Lowe, environmental manager for the State Highway Administration. Stetson told his colleagues on the council that the letter represented his personal views and that he wrote on his personal stationery. Stetson read aloud the letter he wrote on Jan. 28 and mailed the following day. He told Lowe that in his 10 years as an elected councilman he had never had a constituent express to him that they were in favor of a bridge crossing from the western shore into Kent County, “but many have expressed their disfavor at such an idea that such a bridge might be built.” He cited constituents’ concerns about congestion, pollution and crime and “that our population would grow extensively” if a Bay bridge into Kent County was built. “Please do not force it upon a population that has no desire or need for such a bridge,” Stetson said in ending his letter. Stetson told his colleagues that he did not see any benefit of a bridge to Kent County. “They’re just going to pass through and do their shopping in Delaware or go to Ocean City to go to the ocean. I just can’t see any plusses.” “We have one of the few places in this country that has remained kind of pristine and I think we should do everything we can to keep it that way. I feel very strongly about this,” Stetson said. First Ward Councilman David Foster said he also was personally opposed to the Bay crossing. “There will be winners and losers,” he said, acknowledging that there are economic opportunities a new bridge would bring. For that reason, he was not in favor of summarily dismissing it. Foster recommended that those who oppose the bridge find other ways to bring economic development to the area. “We really can’t be Can’t County. We can’t say ‘ no’ to every economic opportunity,” he said. Third Ward Councilman Ellsworth Tolliver said he has spoken to people in his community who support a bridge if it would bring growth and economic development to Chestertown. He acknowledged the opposing view because “we want to keep as much of Kent County in the state that it’s in, but the future is now. And having that (bridge) come this way could serve in a positive way.” Tolliver said he would not take a stand on the bridge issue until he had done more research. Mayor Chris Cerino and Second Ward Councilwoman Linda Kuiper did not speak about the Bay crossing. When the floor was opened for public comment, Jeff Carroll, owner of the Fish Whistle restaurant, said he hoped to bring a Saturday-Sunday fishing tournament to Chestertown in the fall. The plan is that this would be an annual event. It would be a tournament on a grand scale, with a projected first-place purse of $10,000. Carroll identified the Kent-Queen Anne’s Rescue Squad, Hope Fellowship’s addiction/recovery pro- gram and the Sultana Education Foundation’s scholarship program as the nonprofits that would benefit. He said he would return at the Feb. 20 meeting for a more thorough discussion of his plans and to seek permits.
At Monday’s council meeting, Chestertown Councilman Marty Stetson reads from a letter he sent to the State Highway Administration opposing a Chesapeake Bay bridge crossing into Kent County. At right is Mayor Chris Cerino.