The Baltimore Sun

We must remain stewards of the bay

While reading about the fight over a 200-foot pier to be built off Dobbins Island (The Sun, Aug. 5) I learned that I had missed something on the crucial environment vs. development front.

Sometime back, I learned of Daryl C. Wagner's beautiful home on Little Island on the Magothy River. I didn't read about it in Better Homes & Gardens or some other publication about beautiful homes. Rather I heard about it when WBAL-TV did a story about how Mr. Wagner, without applying for critical zoning variances, tore down a small cottage and constructed this home.

Late last year, it seems, our governments caved and granted Mr. Wagner his variances retroactively. This goes against both the spirit and the letter of the law.

We are supposed to have environmental laws that are enforceable. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation states, "Maryland's Critical Area Act requires that citizens apply for and receive permission to construct in any area within 1,000 feet of tidally influenced waters." Little Island is a little island -- the whole property is obviously within 1,000 feet of tidal-influenced waters. Apparently Mr. Wagner and his legal representation have some other interpretation of that part of the law.

The scuttlebutt around the waterways I sail on is that at one point Mr. Wagner claimed that no one was sure exactly which county Little Island was in. Hello, it is called a map.

Ownership of our lands comes with a certain level of stewardship. We are all responsible for taking care of the land/space around us. If we do not enforce building regulations and environmental laws, what will keep boaters from directly flushing their human waste into Chesapeake Bay? What would keep everyone from just throwing their trash into the Inner Harbor and not just the few who already ignore the law?

When first discovered, the Chesapeake Bay was called the "little ocean." Well, our little ocean has provided a way for people to provide for their families. It has earned us an international reputation for both oysters and our beloved Maryland blue crab. People from around the world travel here just to sail our much-loved bay. We must not allow development to win out over environment. We must protect this national treasure.

Barry Considine Pasadena

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