WCD helps pro­tect base op­er­a­tions

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

Like many mil­i­tar y fa­cil­i­ties, the Naval Sup­port Fa­cil­ity in In­dian Head faces prob­lems from en­croach­ment. The Wa­ter­shed Con­ser­va­tion Dis­trict (WCD) solves many of th­ese prob­lems by re­duc­ing build­ing den­si­ties in ar­eas of con­cern to the base. Hence the WCD pro­tects the vi­a­bil­ity of the county’s largest em­ployer out­side the board of ed­u­ca­tion.

A com­pat­i­bil­ity study from the late ‘80s, when the base was called the Naval Ord­nance Sta­tion (NOS), doesn’t mince words: “Growth will in­crease the op­por­tu­nity for con­flict be­tween NOS ac­tiv­i­ties and sur­round­ing civil­ian and pub­lic ac­tiv­i­ties.”

Yet growth is of­ten touted as some­how good for the base, fre­quently by some with real es­tate in­ter­ests. The Chap­mans’ Land­ing pro­posal is an ex­am­ple. How­ever, an as­sis­tant sec­re­tary of the Navy, in ref­er­ence to the project, “told lo­cal of­fi­cials that de­vel­op­ment around the in­stal­la­tion could hurt its chances at re­main­ing a vi­able base of op­er­a­tions.” (Mar yland In­de­pen­dent, “Hoyer sup­ports gov.’s plan to pre­serve Chapman’s,” July 3, 1998). The ar­ti­cle also re­ported Con­gress­man Hoyer say­ing that Charles County would need to im­ple­ment land-use poli­cies that do not “un­der­mine our [i.e., the base’s] com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage.” The WCD is just such a land-use pol­icy.

Prior to the WCD, ma­jor sub­di­vi­sions were al­lowed within noise-com­plaint zones around the base’s Stump Neck an­nex. The re­cent Joint Land-Use Study (JLUS) listed com­plaints as a con­cern. By low­er­ing the den­sity of fu­ture de­vel­op­ment there, the WCD greatly re­duces the chances that com­plaints will con­strain the base’s ac­tiv­i­ties and hence jeop­ar­dize its mis­sion.

The WCD re­duces den­sity in what the com­pat­i­bil­ity study called a “reser­voir” of growth po­ten­tial that would cre­ate prob­lems if de­vel­oped. The JLUS con­curs that “com­mu­nity growth” is a con­cern. Among the is­sues is in­creased traf­fic on Route 210 in­ter­fer­ing with the truck­ing of en­er­getic ma­te­ri­als and in­creas­ing the risk of an ac­ci­dent. The Ma­rine’s re­sponse force at the base uses 210 to reach Wash­ing­ton in the event of a ter­ror­ist at­tack. The WCD will curb traf­fic growth on the main artery to the base. Any­one who ex­pe­ri­enced the steep jump in traf­fic on Route 210 when Route 228 was con­nected will un­der­stand the ben­e­fit of re­duc­ing growth along the 228 cor­ri­dor, as the WCD does.

Con­sid­er­ing fur­ther the trans­port of en­er­getic ma­te­ri­als — a con­sul­tant to the JLUS ex­pressed con­cern over Bryans Road it­self be­com­ing a bot­tle­neck. The WCD re­duces this like­li­hood by re­duc­ing growth po­ten­tial in Bryans Road, which is also con­sis­tent with the com­pre­hen­sive plan’s in­tent to re­turn Bryans Road to a vil­lage rather than a ma­jor ur­ban cen­ter as in the 2006 plan.

The WCD will also re­duce the de­mand for ground­wa­ter, an­other con­cern of the JLUS. The 2016 com­pre­hen­sive lan­duse plan, us­ing pro­jec­tions that did not ac­count for the WCD, was un­able to as­sure suf­fi­cient wa­ter for the county in 2040. Al­ready the naval base has re­sorted to expensive re­verse os­mo­sis to pu­rify wa­ter from the Po­tomac River, rais­ing its cost of do­ing busi­ness.

The WCD also sup­ports the in­stal­la­tion by as­sist­ing the re­vi­tal­iza­tion of In­dian Head. It is widely ac­knowl­edged that the town’s vis­i­ble eco­nomic stress de­tracts from the base’s stature dur­ing a BRAC (base re­align­ment and clo­sure) process. The town’s com­mer­cial down­turn can be at­trib­uted in part to com­pe­ti­tion from Bryans Road, and even Wal­dorf. By in­clud­ing lands around the air­port in Bryans Road, the WCD will aim at­ten­tion and in­vest­ment to In­dian Head in­stead of po­ten­tially com­pet­ing ar­eas. The WCD also con­serves the two key tourist at­trac­tions needed to ful­fill the town’s eco­nomic vision to be­come a “trail des­ti­na­tion town.” The WCD main­tains the nat­u­ral set­ting of the Rail Trail that makes this at­trac­tion re­gion­ally fa­mous. And the WCD will sta­bi­lize Mat­ta­woman Creek, which is now at the “tip­ping point” for ir­re­versible loss due to overde­vel­op­ment of its wa­ter­shed. Jim Long, Ac­co­keek

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