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The Aegis
Harford County

Requests for temporary restraining orders have been filed in Harford Circuit Court to pause Abingdon Woods tree clearing

Two requests for temporary restraining orders have been filed in Harford Circuit Court in an attempt to halt the tree cutting that began at the Abingdon Woods development site earlier this month.

A complaint seeking a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction was filed Tuesday by Janet Hardy, of Abingdon, and Veronica Cassilly, of Darlington, against the project developers BTC III I-95 Logistics Center, LLC.

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“We’d like to get it stopped until we get some [further] legal [action] happening,” Hardy said.

This complaint follows a similar one filed July 15 by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, which is seeking a temporary restraining order and a permanent injunction on the tree clearing. CBF represents the Save Abingdon Woods coalition in a case before the Maryland Court of Appeals that challenges the development’s forest conservation plan. The court has not yet ruled on the matter.

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CBF alleges that the tree clearing, which started on July 5, should not be allowed while their case is pending.

“It’s a calculated risk for the developer to move ahead with this land clearing,” said Paul Smail, CBF’s director of litigation.

The Harford Circuit Court has responded to neither of CBF’s filings. CBF is considering other legal options as it awaits a ruling.

“Every day a decision is delayed,” more trees are cut,” Josh Kurtz, CBF’s Maryland executive director, said in a statement. “A no-decision in this case works in the favor of the developer.”

The Abingdon Woods project involves building more than 2 million square feet of retail, commercial and warehouse facilities on nine lots within a property that currently consists of woods, wetlands and a section of the Haha Branch stream.

Smail said, if granted, the temporary restraining order would immediately prevent the developer from clearing any more trees for a short period of time. The injunction, which requires a hearing, would last until the Appeals Court rules on the forest conservation plan case.

The tree cutting started after the county granted the developer a grading permit on June 29. Jeanna Tillery was sitting on her deck when she first heard the chopping, banging and grinding noises from the tree clearing. Since then, Tillery said she’s felt “borderline depressed” and that her “spirit has been low.”

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“It’s a constant reminder of what feels like an assault on me personally because I have to endure it,” Tillery said.

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Tillery said she can hear the noise from inside her house, which is about a quarter mile from the clearing work. Hardy lives across the street from it on Abingdon Road, and she said the tree clearing has made her house vibrate and blown dust onto her property.

“It’s been hard to maintain your life,” Hardy said, “seeing this going on and hearing it constantly.”

Tracey Waite, president of Harford County Climate Action, said it’s too late to save all of Abingdon Woods now that the tree cutting has begun.

“We wanted to save the entire intact forest,” Waite said. “And it’s now too late for that.”

But with legal action still underway, Waite said this is a battle still worth fighting.

“There’s still a lot left to save,” Waite said. “Not the whole of Abingdon Woods, but there’s still a lot left to save.”

Clearing has begun at the Abingdon Woods as workers grind up trees at the site located along Abingdon Road Thursday, July 21, 2022.

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