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Kent Island Permit Rejected

The Maryland Board of Public Works this afternoon rejected a state wetlands permit for a development of 1,350 homes on the Eastern Shore, a project Gov. Martin O'Malley said would be so damaging to the Chesapeake Bay it would not be in the state's best interest.

Explaining his vote after eight hours of testimony from opponents and the developer of Four Seasons at Kent Island, O'Malley (D) noted that developer K. Hovnanian had followed the rules and acquired every necessary permit from local and state government.

"They have jumped through every hoop," said the governor, who serves on the public works board. "But this is not a canine hurdle exercise."

Also, the Attorney General's office weighed in on a controversial agreement by Queen Anne's County officials not to speak ill of the residential project the developer wants to build on Kent Island.

The county commissioners agreed not to speak publicly against Four Seasons at Kent Island in a court settlement with Hovnanian several years ago. The Board of Public Works--which consists of Gov. Martin O'Malley, Comptroller Peter Franchot and Treasurer Nancy Kopp-- has raised questions about the agreement as it decides on the wetlands permit.

No county officials have testified on the proposal for 1,350 homes on environmentally sensitive land surrounded on three sides by water. Franchot and opponents of the project have called the agreement a gag order.

In an opinion sent yesterday to the Board of Public Works, Deputy Attorney General John B. Howard Jr. wrote that it's legal for a local government to agree to withhold opposition to a project. But he said that a gag order does not apply to a proceeding involving a state wetlands license.

"If construed to apply to statements of individual commissioners with respect to a State wetlands license application, it would be equivalent to [a gag order]," Howard wrote. Such a provision would be of doubtful legality."

Lisa Rein

By Phyllis Jordan  |  May 23, 2007; 5:44 PM ET
Categories:  Lisa Rein  
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When the President routinely says, "no comment," how can we force other elected officials to give an opinion? Don't like their silence? Run against them or give your own opinion. In Florida, developments and routinely build on land bordered on three, four or five sides by water. But they have good waste disposal systems. This is a non-story.

Posted by: Florida guy | May 23, 2007 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Now to learn how all those houses were built on the water's edge just north of the Kent Narrows Bridge several years ago..

Posted by: DonnieG | May 23, 2007 6:31 PM | Report abuse

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