Watershed conservation district is a wise decision
As a farm owner who lives within the watershed conservation district, and a strong supporter of it, I’m writing to set the record straight on some claims made in a letter to the editor on June 30.
The letter incorrectly states that the Watershed Conservation District zoning would eliminate all commercial/industrial development in the western part of Charles County. In fact, except for the area around Bryans Road, areas in the WCD previously zoned commercial will keep that zoning.
The letter also argues for developing land around Maryland Airport, saying conserving it is not smart growth. But it is smart, for many reasons. Market studies find the area is not competitive, as already demonstrated by the failure of the proposed tech park across the street from the airport. Opening the area around the airport to development would require taxpayers to further subsidize developers with a sewer line. Conserving the surrounding forests helps absorb air pollution from aircraft operations before that pollution reaches nearby schools. And the area is of extraordinary value ecologically, draining to the best site in Maryland for reptiles and amphibians, being an Audubon Important Bird Area, and lying in a watershed recognized by the Chesapeake Bay Program as a priority for protecting both spawning fish and water quality.
Even so, the county commissioners have directed staff to investigate an overlay zone that
might re-open the land around the airport for commercial development. We can only hope the staff follows the lead of the planning commission, which also looked into this and wisely decided it is not a good idea.
Finally, while I applaud the letter’s concern about the importance of storm water management, there is no way it can fully protect the Mattawoman watershed, which is already at the tipping point for irreversible degradation, from the nitrogen pollution caused by new development. The Mattawoman depends on forest, which soaks up nitrogen before it reaches the creek, to do that. That is just one of the many ecological services provided by forest, and there is no way to replace those services critical to the health of the Mattawoman if the forest is lost to development.
Nancy Smart, La Plata