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NOTES ON AUG. 9 RUBBLE DUMP APPEAL HEARING
The appeal by Brandywine Enterprises was heard by Judge Platt. The appealing lawyer said that the “district” (referring to the County Council) misrepresented the burden of proof. He cited several cases, some in Montgomery and Howard Counties to “prove” his case which basically says that if the “staff” (zoning office) approved the special exception, then they must have met the burden of proof that is required for a rubble dump special exception. (Brandywine Enterprises won the special exception at the zoning level, but lost on the appeal by the Greater Baden Aquasco Citizen’s Association (GBACA) to the County Council.) He cited several technical resources, including the Landscape Manual, talking so fast that the stenographer had to ask him to repeat several times. I believe his time was limited and he had a lot of legal research to present on this case.
The lawyer for GBACA replied that the lawyer for Brandywine Enterprises did not cite the “standard of review” to “defer to the expertise of the agency.” The lawyer for the County Council said that some of this has to do with a history that has not been changed in law since prior to being the County Council, that same body was once the commission that determined zoning exceptions. The lawyer for GBACA said that the rubble dump special exception requires that they prove they show that it has a benefit to the community and that its impact is proven not to be harmful, which, according to the people, their expert witnesses, and the County Council, was not done.
Judge Platt will render a decision by Aug. 30. If the appeal fails, Brandywine Enterprises will likely appeal again to its last resort, the Court of Special Appeals in Annapolis, which would have to be filed within 30 days of the decision, but may not take place for another 18 mos.
| Patuxent River Park ActivitiesRiver Ecology Boat Tours (Saturdays & Sundays, 2 pm) Come aboard the pontoon boat for a FREE tour and learn about the wetlands, wildlife and history of the area. Reservations required.Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Driving Tour (Sundays, 10 am-3 pm) This FREE, self-guided, four-mile driving tour has interpretive stops and an observation tower.Patuxent Rural Life Museums (Sundays, 1-4 pm) Take a self-guided FREE tour of the Duvall Tool Museum, Tobacco Farming Museum, and the Duckett Log Cabin, Blacksmith and Farrier Shops. These museums preserve the legacy of 19th century farm history in the county.Patuxent River Park 16000 Croom Airport Road, Upper Marlboro Information: 301-627-6074; TTY 301-699-2544Baden Community Center
13601 Baden-Westwood Road, Brandywine
Fee: Bi-County $30/6 weeks; Non-Bi-County $36/6 weeks
Information: 301-888-1500; TTY 301-203-6030
| July 24 – Greater Baden Aquasco Citizen’s Association (GBACA) meeting notes:There’s a new calendar for 2003 that will start to be sold at GBACA functions and the upcoming Pasture Party. It contains photos of historic homes in the Brandywine-Baden-Aquasco area.There will be a Spaghetti Dinner fundraiser on Sept. 14.The Greater Black Swamp Land Conservation Group (local chapter of the Patuxent Tidewater Land Trust) will be sponsoring a Pasture Party on Sept. 7.GBACA is sponsoring a Candidate Forum on Aug. 21 at 7 PM in lieu of their regular meeting. The Mattaponi Citizens Association will co-sponsor along with other organizations. Clark Aist will be the moderator. 13 candidates (only county council & county executive – from both parties) have been invited. The issues will be: rubble & disposal facilities, land use, development/rural preservation, fire & police, roads, transportation. There will be 5 mins. for each candidate to speak and then there will be a chance for asking questions. Refreshments will be available.The railroad will start to be repaired throughout the month of Aug., starting with the Cross Rd. Trail crossing and moving down to Brandywine Rd. Only the double, not the single tracks will be repaired. This will cause a need for detouring for a time.Aug. 9 at 9:30 AM we need as many people to show up as possible to show the Circuit Court our support for the county’s decision to deny the rubble dump. Please attend. You can wear GBACA buttons or something else that will identify you as a rubble dump protestor.The Baden Fire Dept. has been cut their extensive care unit with paramedic life support from Sun. 11 PM to Mon. 7 AM (8 hrs.). It was due to a settlement with the county for paramedic overtime back-pay and a lack of county funds. The next closest medics are in Upper Marlboro and Clinton. These units are unfamiliar with this area and often get lost. GBACA voted to send a letter to the fire chief and Estepp, cc’ing the fire chiefs in Clinton and Upper Marlboro and other organizations, some of which were present and stated support. Letters to the Editor were also encouraged. You can write to:
Prince George’s County Government Office of Fire Chief
Ronald Blackwell, Fire Chief
4th Floor East, 9201 Basil Ct.
Largo, MD 20774
OR call: 301-883-5200 or send email to email@example.com
The Historic Preservation Commission had a hearing on property on Croom Rd. to reduce a historic site (PG86B-4 Mansfield Skinner Farm, north of Taniard Rd.) to only a graveyard to make room for development. The deteriorated building would be demolished, but since that building was not properly checked, the hearing is being postponed until Sept. to allow time to inspect the building. Concerns about a possible slave graveyard were also mentioned.
|At the South County Coalition meeting June 12, we had two guest speakers that gave us a wealth of information about our Prince George’s County school system. Donna Hathaway-Beck, who’s attended every board meeting in the last seven years, and Linda Owens are both Moms who care about more than just their own kids’ schools, but are not running for office, so they have nothing to lose by being honest. They have successfully collected enough signatures on a referendum for CB 40, a bill that was supposed to give developers incentives to pay to build in areas that have over-crowded schools, but it’s not working.CB 40 may have had good intentions – to limit builders from developing in an area with over-crowded schools unless they pay a fee which will help raise money for building more schools. Unfortunately, the three year wait is not enough to give them incentive and no money has been raised so far, but they can build in over-crowded areas. So who will pay for the schools there? We just don’t have enough money.The present projection for our high schools is an increase from 3,200 students to 9,000 over the next four years with only the students presently in the system. This could mean 39 to 49 temporary buildings at our high schools since there are no plans or funds to build until at least 2007.What Donna and Linda, who are working with county officials and other legislators and activists, propose is to amend CB 40 to increase the number of years builder have to wait to build in areas where schools are over-crowded, have a more stringent test for determining if the area is over-crowded, and have a higher fee that will actually raise enough money to build new schools. You are urged to call your county council representatives to tell them to accept amendments to CB 40 that will increase the wait to at least 5 yrs. and collect sufficient funds to build more schools and prevent increasing over-crowded conditions. The representative in Brandywine and Aquasco, District 9, is council member Jim Estepp, who is also a candidate for county executive. You can email him or call him at 301-952-3820.The new school board is ready to work hard to make our public school system a better place for our children, but the first job they have to do is cut $52 million from the budget. Most of our classes already have at least 30 kids and our teachers are paid about 15% less than neighboring counties. They’ll be looking at a report from a Management oversight team, which should be on their web site soon.Though tests scores have improved and some reports from some of our schools look good, we have to keep it from turning down and help to lift them up. To learn more about the issues surrounding CB 40 and more information about our schools, see the CB40referendum.com.
| The Greater Baden Aquasco Citizen’s Association will have a very important meeting on July 24, 2002 at 7:30 PM at the Baden Firehouse. Two main issues will be discussed (1) the court date fighting the prososed rubble dump is set for August 9th at 9:30 AM in the Circuit Court in Upper Malboro and (2) changes in the coverage provided to the Brandywine residents by our local firehouses. Additional information call 579-6655 or 888-2831
| A newcomer to Aquasco had his life, and that of his building contractor, threatened by a couple of young adult males passing by in a car. It was very disturbing to him. He says, “I spent 6 years in the US armed forces and currently work for the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington, D.C. I go to work everyday to help fight a global war on terrorism only to be subjected to terrorism by the very people I love and protect, which very much saddens me and my family.” He is planning to move his wife and two children here when his house is finished being built, hopefully by the end of the summer. If you have any words of comfort or welcome or other comments to share, please send them to the web site manager, Joyce, by clicking on this link, since he would prefer not to make his personal information public, and it will be forwarded to him. FOLLOW UP:Another incident was reported by the newcomer. Three young adults were circling around on dirt bikes and used a hand symbol that looks like one used by white hate groups against any minorities they’d like exponged. If you know of any young white adult (or teen youth) males who might be participating in such a hate group in Aquasco, please try to encourage them to cease this behavior. Also, suspects can be reported to the HR Commission at 301-883-6195 or our COPS officer, Cpl. Hudson at 301-856-3130 ext. 259. I don’t think they’ve officially committed a crime yet, but since they’ve threatened to do so, it would be nice if we could do something to help keep them from possibly taking action. Thanks to everyone who previously responded with messages of welcome and sympathy to the newcomer. We have a wonderful, friendly community here, in general; I hope we can keep it that way.
| Greater Baden Aquasco Citizen’s Association (GBACA) is having a Flea Market – crafts, entertainment, and previously-owned items for sale. Donations are being accepted at St. Mary’s Hall each Fri. night this month from 6:30 to 8:30 PM. April 27 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., at St. Mary’s Hall. Information: 301-888-1281. Proceeds will go to help fight the rubble dump and help keep our community safe. Click here for a map and directions. Though the address to St. Mary’s Church is not known, using 16200 Saint Marys Church Rd, Aquasco, MD will give you the correct results for directions at MapQuest.
|Greater Baden Aquasco Citizens Association(GBACA)* presents:
of Railroad Town & Tobacco Country Saturday, May 18, 2002 10:00 AM-3:00 PM
This self-selecting tour will include private homes which are recognized as historic sites, churches, antique cars, cemeteries, and other historic interests from Brandywine to Aquasco, Maryland.
A booklet with historic information, photos, and a map will serve as your ticket.
TICKETS: will be for sale at GBACA events, at Schoshie’s Antique Store on Brandywine Rd., on the internet at www.BrandywineMD.com, or by calling 301-782-9922 Price: $25 per person
*This event is a fundraiser to fight a local rubble dump. For more information, email or call 301-782-9922
|Carmen wrote this informative note.: ” In three different bills, the Prince George’s County state legislative delegation is attempting to UNDERMINE TRIM and allow ADDITIONAL PROPERTY TAXES to be collected over and above your current amounts to provide more funding for the school system.Two of the bills, HB-987 and HB-957, which are “Emergency Bills” for expedited processing, provide for a partly elected, partly appointed School Board plus taxing authority.A third bill, HB-989 is entirely a “Taxing Authority,” which mandates that 88.27% of the entire county property tax now collected go to the schools, leaving only 12% for everything else. Then they could levy additional tax on top of that.All three provide that the change would have to go to referendum for voter approval and the additional taxes raised would go to the schools. It is still a shell game that removes any control over how much is raised and spent in the entire budget. HB-989 appears to cause a SPECIAL ELECTION TO BE HELD EVERY YEAR that they want to exceed TRIM. That alone would cost scads of money.Right now, the only control on your tax is the RATE applied to your assessed value so your taxes still go up whenever your assessment increases. Taxes have about doubled since TRIM went into effect, higher than neighboring jurisdictions including Montgomery County.If you care about this raid on your wallet, spending out of control, please call your Delegates and urge them to vote AGAINST HB-957, HB-987 and HB-989. For most of southern Prince George’s, they are:Del. Joseph Vallario, Jr., 301-858-3488 and Del. Jim Proctor, 301-858-3083 (no toll) For Delegates Kerry, Obie Patterson and David Valderama it is 301-858-3012. For the whole Prince George’s Delegation, call 301-858-3074.”
|Roslyn Turner, candidate for County Council, held a successful Meet and Greet March 3. See her sites for a slide show of the event.
|From Joe Brice of the South County Coalition: We have designed a Zoning and Planning Class in conjunction with Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC). This class is free and will occur this coming Saturday, January 26, 2002. It will be held at Harmony Hall in Fort Washington at 10 am. The class will be facilitated by Mr. Jimi Jones.The reason for this class is that most of us are not aware of the procedures necessary to become involved in the zoning and planning process. We don’t know how to be notified about zoning changes planned for our areas, nor are most of us knowledgeable about becoming parties of record or how to enter testimony into the official record. Many of us do not understand how it is that we end up on the outside of debates and appeals or hear about changes that affect us only after a decision has been made.This class is to introduce us to the mysterious hearing process. To insure that information that we the people need to know and will be able to use, the class agenda was reviewed Carmen Anderson, a veteran of many zoning and planning hearings in Upper Marlboro [see more about Carmen in the hearing article below]. MNCPPC modified the presentation based on her suggestions.The ultimate purpose of this class is to strengthen our voices in the south county. An added value will be the attendance of Mr. Craig Rovelstadt. Craig is the community planner for south county and a person each association interested in what is being planned for their community ought to know. Craig has asked me if there are any corridors that questions may arise about. In this case, corridors mean areas like 210, 301, Branch Ave, around the Metro station, etc.Please do two things. Spread the word about this class and give me a call if you intend to attend. We would like to have a minimum of 25 people there and the class will be held in the auditorium. My numbers are: (D) 202-606-4656; (E) 301-372-8862. You can also return e-mail me through JEBRICE@AOL.COM or JEBRICE@OPM.GOV. Our regular South County Coalition meetings are held on the second Wednesday of each month on the second floor of the Clinton Fire Station at 7:30. I look forward to seeing you at either or both.
| The hearing on the special zoning exception to permit a sand and gravel mine at the intersection of Accokeek and McKendree Rds. took place yesterday and I was in attendance from ~3:30 PM until 11:00 when it finally ended. There was a lot of interesting testimony and I believe I learned a lot – about zoning hearings, the history of our area, our sensitive environment, and the caring and committed residents here.Rev. Kent of Asbury United Methodist Church was the first I heard, though there were several whom I missed before him. Many of his congregants are concerned about the increased traffic that 560 trucks per day will bring. There was some long testimony from locals who were accepted as expert witnesses – one on traffic engineering and one on geology. The concern about the narrow, winding Accokeek Rd. with little to no shoulder in many places was pointed out repeatedly. There is another mine in the same area referred to as the “Meinhardt mine” which has a potential of also bringing 400 trucks up and down that same area. There was objection to any increase in heavy truck traffic due to the condition of the road.There was testimony from Waldorf (Prince George’s County) residents, living just south of the proposed mine, and from Accokeek residents, including representation from the Moyaone Reserve Association. Their biggest concern was about the water that would be used by the proposed washer. Suggestions were made that the washer could either be located elsewhere or an alternative source for water could be used, such as purchasing waste water that might otherwise be dumped into the river, as has been done elsewhere in the area.Many people testified about the loss of the forest and wildlife, which is the reason they moved to the area – a quiet, rural setting. The geologist pointed out how the rocks, water, plant life, and wildlife are all intertwined in that area and how this proposed mine will destroy the present ecosystem and reforestation will not be able to duplicate the environment that is able to provide habitat for many animal species. There was also concern by the Friends of Mattawoman Creek that the tributary there would be destroyed and a great deal of silt would filter down into the creek. The creek has been reported to have 40 times as many anadromous fish (those going out to the sea and coming back to spawn) than others surveyed in Maryland. Several reported concerns for the loss of hunting land, especially the loss of the wild turkey which were at one time rare and have now been allowed to be hunted for only six years. Since the survey by the county of the proposed site only lasted one day, many suspect there are far more species than were listed, especially birds that could be considered rare or of special state concern.Laurie Verge, director of Surratts House, reported that the site was once part of Fort Adams and may be of historic significance, possibly with artifacts there. She remembers seeing logs which were remnants of the old fort when she was young. Others also spoke of the history of the area. The traffic of heavy trucks and the possibility of road improvements in front of the McKendree cemetery cause concern about the possible loss or further destruction of the magnificently carved tombstone which was partly constructed of Egyptian marble.Carmen Anderson, who’s put a great deal of work into making these hearings possible, gave lengthy testimony, presenting many documents highlighted to point out specific areas that apply to this case, including the Commission 2000 Report.The next hearing will be Thurs., Jan. 17, 9:30 AM at the County Administration Building in the County Council Conference Room, #2161 on the second floor. For more information, call Carmen at 301-372-6949.
| Carmen E. Anderson announces, “The last hearing before the Hearing Examiner on the huge gravel mine and wet washer proposed on Accokeek Road will be next Wednesday, Jan. 9, starting at 2 pm going all evening until our witnesses finish. This means if people can get there by 5 or 6 pm., it would still make an impact. I am simply looking for CHAIR FILLERS, not necessarily testimony unless people want to. The hearing will be at the County Administration Building in the County Council Conference Room, #2027 on the second floor, as currently planned. We must get as many more Parties of Record on board by next week as we can.” For more information, call Carmen at 301-372-6949. If you travel on Accokeek Rd. or have friends or family that do, this would put an average of one truck per minute going back and forth over that narrow, winding, shoulder-less road Mon.-Sat. for 20 yrs.