Environmentalist Bonnie Bick speaks before the Charles County Planning Commission Feb. 13.
La Plata, MD - During recent public hearings regarding a sensitive estuary and efforts to protect it, local "tree huggers" found themselves under siege.
Environmentalists spoke out Monday, Feb. 13 at the Charles County Planning Commission meeting in La Plata, complaining about the harsh treatment they were subjected to during recent public hearings concerning the Watershed Conservation District (WCD) being proposed in the western part of the county.
“I was very rowdily booed when I testified in favor of the proposed Watershed Conservation District, and I would like to speak for people for having the right to stand up and protect a resource,” Sierra Club representative Bonnie Bick told commission members. “I thought it was very inappropriate for some of the sort of rowdy atmosphere that was at the hearing. We never really had that before. I found it distasteful.”
Bick said a number of people who intended to speak in favor of the proposal left the hearing rather than be subjected to jeers from opponents of the measure. “So I just want to speak up for the right to protect a resource that is one of the [Chesapeake] Bay’s most valuable tributaries,” Bick said. “I feel the county needs to be very clear about the fact that there is a choice regarding the Watershed Conservation District, and one of the assets is the actual cutting back of the growth.” Almost without question, people feel the county had been growing too fast. And protecting the Mattawoman Creek was recommended by the inter-agency task force that had 50 professionals working to come up with recommendations and to the very great credit of our county commissioners, they took those recommendations to heart and came up with the WCD. I would recommend that every planning commission member look at the interagency task force’s recommendations regarding the Watershed Conservation District and the recommendations that were made to protect the Mattawoman Creek.”
Bick maintains that the amount of acreage affected by the zoning designation wasn’t as large as opponents of the measure are making it out to be. “When one of the realtors said that the zoning will affect 17,000 housing units the WCD restricted building, there was a very rapid effort to turn that into fake news,” she asserted. “My argument was that it was probably more units than that. As the person said before that, that was before density credits. It’s actually quite a big issue and it’s kind of been swept aside.”
Bick concluded by stating, “I would recommend that you use the map that shows the developed areas and the preserved areas in the Watershed Conservation District, because it’s really not 37,000 acres in play.”
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