Despite two appeals pending before the Courts, clearing at Abingdon ensues on July 5th. The press release is below:
Abingdon, MD – Yesterday, BTC III I-95 Logistics Center LLC began clearing trees and soil in Abingdon Woods, a forest with acres of wetlands and streams flowing to Otter Point Creek and the last stand of intact mature forest in the pollution impaired Bush River watershed. This destruction is the first step in the construction and operation of the BTC-III I-95 Logistics Center, a 2.5 million square feet industrial warehouse complex that will replace the majority of 326 acres of forest known as Abingdon Woods.
“This action is heartbreaking for the communities surrounding Abingdon Woods,” says Theaux Le Gardeur, Gunpowder, Bush, and Bird Riverkeeper. “Converting 326 acres of forested wetlands and waterways into millions of square feet of impervious surface will further degrade the already polluted and impaired Bush River and lead to erosion and stormwater runoff issues.”
In December 2019, Riverkeeper and community members were forced to submit a complaint when contractors in Abingdon Woods began work prior to obtaining the required permits and approvals, this resulted in a stop work order from County and State regulators.
The developer’s activities yesterday, triggered by Harford County’s approval of a grading permit, comes while two separate lawsuits against the project are moving through the Harford County Circuit Court and Maryland Court of Appeals. Commencing destruction of the forest and its resources now puts in jeopardy Riverkeeper’s legal right to be heard in Court and opportunity to protect the wetlands and waterways in Abingdon Woods.
Gunpowder Riverkeeper has opposed this project since it was first brought before the Harford County Council in March 2019. Riverkeeper, represented by the Chesapeake Legal Alliance, has also challenged the Maryland Department of the Environment’s (“the Department”) erroneous and arbitrary decision to issue State Wetlands and Waterways Permit 19-NT-0228/201961268. This Permit allows the destruction and alteration of wetlands and their buffers, floodplain, and waterways in Abingdon Woods to make way for an industrial mega-warehouse complex and mix used development.
“The Maryland Department of the Environment’s decision to issue a wetlands and waterways permit for this project is irrational and runs counter to the Department’s own water quality analysis, data, and studies of the Bush River,” says Patrick DeArmey, Staff Attorney with Chesapeake Legal Alliance.
If the wetlands and trees are destroyed before the Court cases are resolved it will render the cases useless and the opportunities to protect Harford County’s vitally important wetlands, waterways, and forests will be gone.
Gunpowder Riverkeeper, is a local 501(c)(3) nonprofit watershed organization with a mission to protect, conserve, and restore the Gunpowder, Bird, and Bush Rivers and their watershed for the benefit of the public.
Chesapeake Legal Alliance is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to providing free legal services, with a mission to apply the power of the law to protect and restore clean water and promote healthy, resilient ecosystems for communities across the Chesapeake Bay Watershed
Theaux Le Gardeur, Executive Director and Riverkeeper, Gunpowder Riverkeeper (410) 967-3526 email@example.com
Patrick DeArmey, Staff Attorney, Chesapeake Legal Alliance