The Star Democrat

Commission­ers address residents regarding Wood Farm lawsuit

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Letter from the Caroline County Commission­ers re: Wood Farm lawsuit against the county.

An overlooked and underappre­ciated part of our Caroline County government consists of the numerous appointed commission­s and boards whose sole responsibi­lity is to ensure the continued livability of our County. Currently, our County has 22 such bodies which are filled solely by County citizens willing to volunteer their time. It is with pride that we inform you of the courageous decision made by the Planning Commission last month to rescind its prior approval of a proposed large-scale sand and gravel mining operation on a farm on Log Cabin Road just off Route 404. The corrective action by the Planning Commission was a welcome relief from a series of earlier misguided decisions which had been based upon false statements of material fact. The Commission and the residents of Log Cabin Road had been told that the entrance to the facility could not be located in the State Highway Administra­tion easement area on that road. Placement of the entrance in the SHA easement would subject the project to heightened traffic safety and engineerin­g standards.

The Planning Commission deserves credit for caring about the enormous safety hazard that this project would impose on 404, which is traveled heavily by our residents and commuters. The developer had stated that there would be 100 dump

trucks each day turning onto Log Cabin Road, then turning back onto 404 followed by an immediate need to perform a U-turn within 300 yards of the facility’s exit.This would require the trucks to merge onto 404 meeting highway speeds, crossing over two lanes and make a Uturn within 300 yards. Following the Uturn, the same truck would have to again merge into highway speed traffic. Following the math, this would be a dump truck entering 404 every 3 minutes.The County faces the prospect of a drastic increase in the number of fatalities on 404.

For years now, there has been a push to dig the earth from beneath this County and haul it, one truckload at a time, to the Western Shore, with little thought for the long- and short-term impact on this County’s welfare. We declare this to be unconscion­able.

We are proud of and stand in support of the decision of the Caroline County Planning Commission to rescind approval of the Wood Farm surface mining project applicatio­n. The developer has filed a civil suit in Circuit Court and named as individual defendants the four members of the Planning Commission who voted in favor of the motion for reconsider­ation.We (the County Commission­ers) also were sued. We will vigorously defend this unwarrante­d attack on our Planning Commission’s decision.

The members of our Planning Commission, all volunteers, are tasked with studying each proposed project in depth. These folks must take time out of their busy lives to educate themselves on the processes, procedures, rules and regulation­s that surround the permitting process. Being a member of the Planning Commission is a heavy lift because of the time and dedication required, with no financial reward. We condemn the berating, bullying and personal attacks made by the developer’s legal counsel on the volunteers of the Commission and certain County employees in this matter.

In closing, as volunteer firemen, we have cut the bodies out of the mangled vehicles on 404. We have attended the funerals of those who have perished. We have heard the screaming and crying of the family members who have just gotten the news that their child, mother, or husband isn’t coming home. Our main priority is to protect the health and welfare of our constituen­ts and those who are visiting or passing through Caroline County. Our collective safety is in jeopardy.We are proud of our Planning Commission for reconsider­ing the approval of this project out of concern for its safety implicatio­ns.

LARRY C. PORTER WILBUR LEVENGOOD JR.

DANIEL J. FRANKLIN

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