Inspectors briefly shut down Winsor work site
Order prompted by environmental drainage concern
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.”