In­spec­tors briefly shut down Win­sor work site

Or­der prompted by en­vi­ron­men­tal drainage con­cern

Maryland Independent - - News - By ANDREW RICHARD­SON arichard­son@somd­ Twit­ter: @An­drew_IndyNews

A stop work or­der was placed on an ex­ca­va­tion site in Bryans Road, where the Win­sor Man- or sub­di­vi­sion is to be built, by county in­spec­tors for about a three week pe­riod in late Septem­ber due to fail­ure to im­ple­ment and main­tain sed­i­ment ero­sion con­trol mea­sures, Charles County gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials say.

The devel­op­ers were fined, as sed­i­ment and storm wa­ter had been fall­ing into a nearby Mat- tawoman Creek trib­u­tary, but cor­rec­tive mea­sures have been taken and work has re­sumed.

The devel­op­ers, D.D. Land Hold­ing, were tacked with a $433 fine and a stop work or­der that re­mained in ef­fect from Sept. 29 to Oct. 21, ac­cord­ing to Frank Ward, Charles County chief of codes, per­mits and in- spec­tion ser­vices.

Jim Long, pres­i­dent of the Mat­ta­woman Wa­ter­shed So­ci­ety, has con­cerns about the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact Win­sor Manor will have, point­ing out that the devel­op­ers have cleared a path for a soon-to-be road that will run close, par­al­lel and up­hill from a Mat­ta­woman trib­u­tary.

He calls it “death by a thou­sand cuts.”

“To­day we know a lot more than we used to know, and build­ing a road par­al­lel to a stream and near a stream is not a good prac­tice if you want to pro­tect its aquatic qual­ity,” he said. “It’s par­al­lel to it, so there is more op­por­tu­nity for all the stuff that comes off of cars to get washed into the stream, heavy met­als from brake lin- ings, leaky oil, leaky radiators and then the road salt, plus the storm wa­ter load.”

As the stream is dis­turbed by silt­ing, the wa­ter will be­come muddy and ul­ti­mately dis­rupt the aquatic ecosys­tem, Long ex­plained. Preda­tors, like fish, won’t be able to see their prey and can have their gills clogged.

“It’s also known to suf­fo­cate eggs, if it coats fish eggs or in­sect eggs,” he con­tin­ued. “The fish eat the in­sects, so now you’re im­pair­ing the fish and what they eat. So silt is gener- ally con­sid­ered very bad in ex- ces­sive quan­ti­ties.”

Long also ex­plained how the silt will be car­ried down­stream and even­tu­ally into the Mat- tawoman Creek, where it will threaten to blot out the sun­light needed by sub­merged aquatic veg­e­ta­tion, which is a “very, very im­por­tant habi­tat com­po­nent for the aquatic health of many or­gan­isms and the whole sys­tem.”

Wil­liam F. Ch­es­ley, pres­i­dent and founder of W. F. Ch­es­ley Real Es­tate, the larger com­pany that in­cludes D.D. Land Hold- ing, at­trib­uted the stop work or­der to heavy rain­fall, and says they are do­ing their best to stay in com­pli­ance.

“It’s not un­usual,” Ch­es­ley said of the stop work or­der. “When we have a big rain, the in­spec­tors come to all the jobs and if there’s been any ero­sion cor­rec­tions or need for more grass seed plant­ing or whatev- er then we have to go back and do it, and un­til we do it they’ll stop you.”

“It was a very short term stop work, as they typ­i­cally are,” he added. “Af­ter a big rain … how can you not have some ero­sion on the site where you’re do­ing ex­ca­va­tion?”

“We are do­ing ev­ery­thing within our power to com­ply with what’s re­quired of this site to take care of sed­i­ment con­trol and any wa­ter re­ten­tion that is sup­posed to hap­pen there, and to do what our per­mit calls for,” Ch­es­ley said, “but it’s hard to be per­fect.”

The South Hamp­ton Home Owner As­so­ci­a­tion, the adja- cent neigh­bor­hood, has tried un­suc­cess­fully — as of yet — to take le­gal ac­tion to stop the devel­op­ers from us­ing South Hamp­ton Drive as their ac­cess road, and in­stead use Cree­don Drive. Res­i­dents re­main con­cerned about po­ten­tial dan­gers for pedes­tri­ans with in­creased traf­fic, es­pe­cially with the con- struc­tion ve­hi­cles, and the ab­sence of side­walks. Ul­y­see Davis, HOA pres­i­dent, also ar­gues that there is no school al­lo­ca­tion for the new homes that are to be built and fears the en­vi­ron­men­tal reper­cus­sions.

In lieu of le­gal re­lief, Davis and other South Hamp­ton res­i­dents have been protest­ing the Win­sor Manor sub­di­vi­sion nearly ev­ery week­end, he said.

Davis and HOA board mem- ber Ben Afroilan have been out- spo­kenly crit­i­cal of the lack of pub­lic no­tice from the Charles County Plan­ning Com­mis­sion when the fi­nal plat for Win­sor Manor was ap­proved in 2008. Had they known back then, they could have filed a pe­ti­tion for judicial re­view. Now, they march with picket signs.

“The fi­nal plat ap­proval process does not re­quire no­ti­fi­ca­tion or a pub­lic hear­ing be­fore the plan­ning com­mis­sion,” said Donna Fuqua, a Charles County gov­ern­ment spokes­woman, in a prior state­ment. “There­fore, nei­ther the South Hamp­ton HOA nor the res­i­dent agent would have been no­ti­fied.”

Davis and Afroilan be­lieve that this pol­icy is a dis­ser­vice to the com­mu­nity.

“If there was a pub­lic process, which in­cluded a pub­lic hear­ing be­fore the plan­ning com­mis­sion, this would not be go­ing on right now,” Afroilan said dur­ing a March protest. “In Mont­gomery [County], there is a pub­lic process that in­cludes a pub­lic hear­ing, so peo­ple are re­ally con­sulted.”

“Even if it is not re­quired, it is in­cum­bent on the plan­ning com­mis­sion to ask the pub­lic,” he added. “So many things could have hap­pened in 2008, had the plan­ning com­mis­sion heard the pub­lic.”

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