Start of construction getting close on Four Seasons
CHESTER — Construction plans are moving forward on the controversial Four Seasons housing development on Kent Island.
And the developer, K. Hovnanian Homes, has one less legal headache. The Queen Anne’s Conservation Association has decided not to appeal the Queen Anne’s County Board of Appeals’ approval of the project’s first phase.
“We are anxious to get started with the project,” said Mike Irons, vice president of land development for Hovnanian. “We are excited that no further appeals were filed.”
The developer has recorded the subdivision plat with the county government and county officials expect to issue the grading permit for the project any day now, according to J. Steven Cohoon, the county’s public facilities planner.
“Once the grading permit is issued, then construction would start on the project,” Cohoon said.
Planned for Castle Marina Road, the entire housing project is 1,079 units, but the county has only approved phase one, which is 162 residential units, a mix of singlefamily homes and condominiums for 55 and older persons.
Hovnanian earlier had applied for the grading permit, which was being processed last week. But the developer hasn’t applied for the building permit yet because “they have to do a fair amount of site work” first, including the grading and the installation of utilities before the building permit is issued, Cohoon said.
One of the most controversial parts of the project is a sewer line the developer plans to run under Cox Creek, which is necessary for the project. A separate permit will be needed for that, Cohoon said.
In a related development, the Queen Anne’s Conservation Association has decided not to appeal the county appeals board’s approval of phase one. This past August, the appeals board by voice vote approved the first phase, but gave the written decision on Oct. 21.
QACA’s Executive Director Jay Falstad announced on Facebook the group’s decision on Nov. 21.
The group still believes the evidence before the board did not support its conclusions that the Four Seasons project will not cause traffic problems, that it adequately handles stormwater run-off, and that its high-rise condos on the shoreline are compat- ible with the neighborhood, Falstad wrote.
The board’s approval is only for 162 units of the development and “that if and when approvals are sought for additional units, we and other opponents of Four Seasons will have the opportunity to renew our objections in a more favorable environment – i.e. one in which the vulnerability of Kent Island to traffic congestion and sea level rise will be more apparent, as will be the ugly inappropriateness of the condo units when they are actually built,” Falstad said.
For now, QACA will redirect its efforts toward the litigation the group and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Chester River Association and others are pursuing against the issuance of the wetlands license required by Four Seasons (including its Phase One), Falstad wrote.
“[We] and the neighbors of Four Seasons will be watching closely to see whether there is any repeat of Hovnanian past Clean Water Act violations as such time as phase one may be under construction,” Falstad said.
He is referring to the developer’s agreement to pay a $1 million civil penalty to resolve alleged Clean Water Act violations at 591 construction sites in 18 states and the District of Columbia.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Justice Department made the announced of settlement in 2010.
In Queen Anne’s County, the Four Seasons development has been in court for years in legal battle between environmental groups and the developer.
This past September, a Circuit Court judge upheld the state Board of Public Works’ decision to grant the wetlands license for the project.