Friday, January 06, 2006

Filling in the Bay

If there's a common theme among recent critical area violators, it's that they have no respect for the government agencies which are supposed to protect our natural resources, and an unhealthy desire to adorn their houses with kitschy faux-lighthouse additions. Daryl Wagner's Little Dobbins Island story has been told here a number of times. Now, the Capital reports on William Costello's ridiculous Bay-front saga in St. Margaret's, north of Annapolis.

In 2003, Mr. Costello's property was severely eroded as a result of tropical storm Isabel. He applied for, and was granted, an expedited permit to restore the damaged area. He did that ... and more. By the time the 300 + dump trucks had done their work, more than 10,600 sq/ft of the Bay (beyond the original property line) had been filled in. The punishment so far for illegally filling in a 1/4 acre of the Bay? A $10,000 fine. That's probably 1/40th or 1/50th of the value of the land added to the Costello's property. A fine deal for anyone courageous enough to try it.

Surely, this was Mr. Costello's first offense, right? No. The Costello's had said the full-size Thomas Point Lighthouse replica on their property was going to be used as a garage in 1991. Instead, they turned it into a 5-room bed-and-breakfast, much to the dismay of their neighbors, and eventually, the Court of Special Appeals, who ordered that the lighthouse-cum-hotel return to its role as sentry of the sedans. According to neighbors, it continued to operate as a bed-and-breakfast until some time in 2005.

Check out the photos on the Capital site, they're priceless.



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