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By Kristen Wyatt
Associated Press Writer

ANNAPOLIS -- A large subdivision planned near the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is not a done deal, lawmakers were told Tuesday at a hearing called to examine the proposed development that opponents fear could harm the marshy refuge nearby.

At issue is the Blackwater Resort Communities, a 1,080-acre development that would be home to more than 3,000 homes and a hotel and golf course. The city of Cambridge annexed the property and cleared the way for its construction, but opponents including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have appealed to the state to stop the development, saying it could endanger the refuge.

"We owe it to ourselves and the American public" to hold off on the proposed Blackwater Resort Communities until it is certain the homes won't hurt the refuge, said Glenn Carowan of the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Senators who called the hearing, though, conceded that they have no power to stop the development. The local government has most control over proposed subdivisions, and local authorities who testified said they were strongly in favor of the Blackwater project.

Cambridge Mayor Cleveland Rippons told lawmakers that his town has lost population since 1960 and needs the new residents. "It's time to move forward," he said.

A lawyer for the developer was even more blunt, calling to task lawmakers from outside the Eastern Shore who wanted Dorchester County to remain undeveloped.

"The Eastern Shore is your vacation, but it's our life, and we have to exist even when you're not driving over on a vacation," said the lawyer, William McAllister of Cambridge.

The Dorchester County Council last week approved a resolution clearing the way for the development. State authorities have yet to step in, although bureaucrats who testified told senators that water permits and other hurdles remain for the Blackwater project.

Audrey Scott, the state Planning Secretary, said she has gotten complaints after a story about the proposed subdivision appeared in The Sun in Baltimore. But she insisted there was nothing her agency could do to stop the development beyond advising local officials against it.

"We did express our concerns, but again, we have limited authority," she said.

The chairman of the committee, Democratic Sen. Paul Hollinger, said lawmakers weren't considering a bill aimed at the Blackwater project. But another senator, Democrat James Brochin of Towson, Md., hinted that state officials had an obligation to prevent harm to the refuge.

"Blackwater isn't just Dorchester County's gem. It's Baltimore County's gem and Maryland's gem and a national gem," he said. "Once we start development around Blackwater or any of Maryland's environmental gems, that's it. We don't get another shot at it."
 

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Hi Mike,

I've been following this when in the papers. Sounds like a done deal to me, but I'm not there. What do you think. ?

I can understand the county wanting development, but sure doesn't sound like it will do the environment any good.
[smile]
 

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GREAT!!!!!!!!!!![sad]

Even though I don't use Blackwater, the wildlife contained within the property, the benefits of the marsh, far outweigh any benefit gained by increasing the housing population there.

Any substantial negative impacts to the marsh will certainly be felt downstream with revenues generated by waterfowlers and Sika Hunters.

I would hope that the feds, if able to, would step up as well as organizations like Ducks Unlimited.

You can see a potential disaster coming.

The rest of the world's creatures must be dumb as sh__ because if we as humans are the most advanced, we just never learn to leave valuable resources alone and to protect what we have.
 
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Discussion Starter #4
[Q]one fish originally wrote:
Hi Mike,

I've been following this when in the papers. Sounds like a done deal to me, but I'm not there. What do you think. ?

I can understand the county wanting development, but sure doesn't sound like it will do the environment any good.
[smile]
[/Q]

Ron

I don't think it should be developed.

BUT. It's always been my opinion that if governments or civic organizations are against a property being developed, then pony up with the money to pay fair market value for the property. You can't be against growth or conservation of a property and not expect to pay for it.
 

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Amen, Capt Mike. In the Fredericksburg area there are a few groups that have banded together to save Civil War sites from development by purchasing these properties. I give them a lot of credit because they put their money where their mouth is.
 
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