Approximately 100 concerned citizens many of whom were residents, attended the public hearing for the Abingdon Woods Business park on November 6 at Edgewood High Schools. Many testifying stated that their property, aesthetic and environmental interests will be directly harmed if the Wetlands and Waterways Permit 19-NT-0228 is approved by the Maryland Department of the Environment. The majority of those that attended, including a great showing from members of Harford County Climate Action gave testimony asked for transparency in the permitting process and a 60 day extension to the written comment period. A well organized group of 6th and 7th graders from the Edgewood Middle Environmental Club attended. Many of these young students gave impassioned testimony about climate change, loss of habitat, and air pollution concerns. Also in attendance were Harford County Councilmen Curtis Beulah and Andre Johnson.
Gunpowder Riverkeeper asked for the extension primarily because the organization was forced to file a Public Information Act on September 24th to obtain the application and related documents including the MDE 45 day letter and was not notified by MDE that the documents were reviewable on November 1st-five days before the hearing and 13 days before the close of the comment period.
Last night, Amanda Siglittio, Chief of the MDE Wetlands and Waterways Division answered by changing the written comment period deadline from Nov 14th-just 6 working days from the hearing date to December 6th.
Written comments may now be sent by December 4, 2019 to: The Maryland Department of the Environment, Attn: Louis Parnes, 1800 Washington Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21230 or at email@example.com or at 410-537–3786.
We have provided a link below to the MDE materials from our PIA request here in google drive for everyone interested in the project so they may use the materials to form a meaningful and robust comment letter.
Gunpowder Riverkeeper is opposed to the Wetlands and Waterways Permit 19-NT-0228 because of the complexity of the project, the location in a heavily forested wetland, and the stated wetlands mitigation plan that would pay into the non tidal wetlands mitigation fund rather than mitigate impacts within the same watershed. Notably, the application describes the project within a Tier II catchment of Otter Point Creek 1. However, there is no an anti degradation analysis for these potential impacts to the downstream high quality waterway.
Additionally, the Bush watershed has known impairments for nutrients in downstream tidal waters and suspended sediments in tidal and non tidal waters, fair to boor benthic populations and very sparse submerged aquatic vegetation compared to potential physical habitat.
The MDE permit would allow permanent impacts to isolated forested wetlands, a perennial and a intermittent stream and the 100 year floodplain of Ha Ha branch. Riverkeeper asserts that these activities will only exacerbate these impairments in an area of the upper Chesapeake Bay known as a spawning and nursery ground for important Chesapeake bay fish and impact the Bush River Tidal Bass fishery.