Waterfront owner responds to article

In response to the article regarding my intentions to build a pier and walkway published in the Maryland section of The Sun ("Residents group succeeds in stopping plans for pier," June 7, 2005), I would like to correct several errors in that article and also share some facts about my project.

My house, which sits on 2.6 acres (not 2.2), was built in 1939 (not 1920) and has over 4,000 square feet of space (not 2,703). It was described by The Sun as mostly a tidal pond. In fact the tidal wetlands on my property make up less than 3/4 acres of the total.

I recognize that some Olde Severna Park residents would love to believe that the Severna Company reserved the right to the entire Sullivan Cove waterfront for the benefit of the citizens of Severna Park forever and ever and that belief has been bolstered by the recent court ruling based on a 1929 deed.

The President of the Community Association, Mr. [Corky] Vasquez, was quoted as saying that generations of Olde Severna Park owners sought to protect the wetlands and that no one had ever challenged the riparian rights of the Sullivan Cove waterfront prior to my application to do so. Just the opposite is true.

The fact is that there was no love lost between the Severna Company and Olde Severna Park. The Severna Company was a business whose goal was to sell lots to be developed in a planned new subdivision. But that subdivision was never built and no lots were ever sold. In fact the Severna Company gave up their plans 34 years later when they sold the entire tract to my neighbor, Christian Rossee, without any reservations.

Mr. Rossee's plans were to build his own subdivision. So in 1963 he purchased the land from the Severna Company. Starting in 1963 (over 40 years prior to my pier permit) he started using his riparian waterfront by building jetties to avert erosion and to this day jetties on the property are still maintained. A non-riparian owner cannot build or maintain jetties. No one from the Severna Company and no one from Olde Severna Park challenged Mr. Rossee's riparian ownership rights back then or since then, contrary to Mr. Vasquez's claim. In the 14 years that I have owned my waterfront, no Olde Severna Park resident besides myself has done anything to protect my wetlands.

I know that the Community wants this dispute to be over. I do too, but I am not going to allow my property rights to be taken from me. This is America, not some socialist country. I believe in the end that the court system will determine that I indeed do own the riparian rights to my property and I will be able to complete my project.

Paul B Gunby Jr.

Severna Park

Editor's note: Anne Arundel County land-use records and state taxation records state that Mr. Gunby's home, at 216 Old County Road, was built in 1920 and sits on 2.16 acres. Mr. Gunby says these records are incorrect. State taxation records show his home as having 2,703 square feet, although county officials say two additions, as well as a recalculation of space, push this total to more than 4,000 square feet.

Firefighters deserve full cancer study

I am shocked by the decision of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene not to pursue a second, more in-depth study to determine the link between cancer and Anne Arundel County firefighters ("Study of cancer in firefighters inconclusive," July 29, 2005).

Dr. [Jonathan] Samet, an epidemiologist charged with the initial study, recommended a second study to further determine the link. Of the 90 names given to Dr. Samet, only 17 were used to determine there was not a link. Obviously, this is not adequate. A more comprehensive study is needed.

Firefighters put their lives in danger every day to protect the citizens of this County. Not once do they hesitate; they simply do their job, trusting officials to make the best decisions possible to create the safest environment possible in this very dangerous lifestyle. Every firefighter realizes their job is dangerous but the men and women involved in this particular training exercise were not aware of the type of chemical that was burned or its potential deadly side effects. It's possible that officials from the County as well as BGE did not know either.

It's not a matter of placing blame; it's trying to find a reason why there is a dramatic increase in the occurrence of cancers among firefighters. Our firefighters deserve much better. A second study must be done to determine if there is a link between the cancers and the materials used at the [Millersville training] academy. This link must be verified to protect other firefighters that trained at the same time, for the peace of mind of those fighting this horrific disease, and for those that lost the battle.

I feel this is the least we can do for the men and women that perform such an admirable public service. A safe working environment is a requirement that must be met for all workers.

Kimberly Burton

Severna Park

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