Thursday, April 24, 2008

DNR Blunders, Guided By Politics Rather than Science

Tuesday's Capital reported that the Department of Natural Resources is poised to remove a "botched" oyster reef in Sillery Bay, in the Magothy River. The truth of the matter is there is nothing "botched" about the recently installed reef at all, aside from the fact that at least three navigationally impaired souls ran their boats aground on it.

Now, at the behest of pitchfork wielding boaters and a misguided Delegate, DNR is going to spend some $40,000 additional dollars to rip the reef out (they spent $150,000 to install it) and get back to the business of building failed oyster reefs "at least 8 feet deep." Somehow, they even managed to get the Magothy River Association on board.

Perhaps those managing the resource and others ostensibly concerned about the success of the oyster fishery Bay-wide will eventually get a clue and look the successful aquaculture operations on the Choptank River, where, believe it or not, they are growing oysters at the surface. And to those who would say, oyster reefs shouldn't be a hazard to navigation, I would direct them to the words of Francis Louis Michel, a Swiss visitor to the Chesapeake in 1701, "The abundance of oysters is incredible. There are whole banks of them so that the ships must avoid them. They surpass those in England by far in size, indeed they are four times as large."

At this juncture, I think we need to ask, "Are we going to manage the fishery for beer addled boaters or for the success of the organism?"

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Impact Fee Committee's Modest Proposal

According to today's Capital, the Impact Fee Committee appointed by the County Council, has arrived at a proposal. Unfortunately, for the residents of the County, it both waters down the basis on which the impacts were estimated by Dr. Nicholas, it also only recommends taking them up to 80% of that basis......over 5 years.

Should the Council follow the recommendations of the Committee, the impact fee that would have been levied upon a three-bedroom will drop from Dr. Nicholas' recommendation of $18,669 to $12,800, about the place Dr. Nicholas recommended the fee be placed 7 years ago.

The only measure by which this recommendation could be considered a success is when one compares it to the recommendations of the Impact Fee Committee appointed in 2001.

Once the Council decided defer this decision downward, it was clear that the development community was going march the impact fee number downward. Now, we're left having to hope that the Council disregards the recommendations of the Committee that it appointed.

One curious fact about the article is that the Capital writer went out of her way to repeat Ed Middlebrooks canard: "At one point, a councilman accused County Executive John R. Leopold of rushing through a proposal with huge hikes to distance himself from the development community, which had made large campaign contributions."

As someone who is concerned deeply about quality of life issues in Anne Arundel County, I will gladly take a County Executive who makes a habit of raising millions in campaign funds from the development community, if these sorts of policies are the way he chooses to pay them back.

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