Anne Arundel settles bay building dispute

The Baltimore Sun

A prominent Anne Arundel businessman will not have to raze buildings constructed without permits on one of his two large marinas, under a settlement reached Friday with the county government.

The consent decree states that the wedding chapel, rooming house, sheds and walking trails built by E. Steuart Chaney now comply with local laws and orders him to pay a $20,000 fine.

Ending a high-profile lawsuit that the county filed against Herrington Harbour Inc., the deal specifies that the county hadn't accused Chaney, company president, of violating Critical Area or other environmental laws.

Chaney said Friday that the settlement vindicated him. He said his company had permits all along for some of the structures, including the "wedding house" and bathhouse, at his Rose Haven marina at the Calvert County line, but had made several "technical permit violations."

"We got ahead of ourselves," he said. "We had done things that we should have gotten permits for, but in retrospect didn't."

Chaney said his credentials as an environmental steward of the bay remain untarnished.

County Executive John R. Leopold called the settlement a "successful enforcement action."

"The county accomplished its two primary objectives: compliance with our laws and the imposition of a significant penalty," he said. "The action is consistent with my no-tolerance policy regarding code violations."

The county filed suit last March, alleging illegal construction over several years of offices, a gazebo over the water and a pier into the Chesapeake Bay as well as installation of septic and well systems for the rooming house.

Chaney is praised as a community booster and preservationist, and his two marinas have received awards for environmentally sensitive building practices. His family roots in southern Anne Arundel County go back nearly 350 years.

Leopold, though, has repeatedly noted the county's lawsuit against Chaney to bolster his tough stance on illegal building and show he's not beholden to developers and other wealthy interests.

Leopold's campaign raised $504,000 last year - more than half coming from the developers.

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