Hovnanian to Sell Underwater Lots . . . .

Well, not exactly, but before you buy one of these 1000+ houses proposed for the mouth of the Chester River, you might want to check predictions for sea level rise in this part of the Bay — it’s big!

from the Chesapeake Bay Daily of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation <http://cbf.typepad.com/bay_daily/2013/08/what-do-you-see-in-this-picture-the-blue-waters-of-the-mouth-of-the-chester-river-as-it-flows-into-the-chesapeake-bay-a.html#more>:

Pictures Show Chesapeake Bay Waterfront Threatened by New Jersey Developer

Four seasons development siteWhat do you see in this picture? The blue waters of the mouth of the Chester River, as it flows into the Chesapeake Bay. A scenic shoreline on Kent Island, with a tree casting a shadow beside a farm field. Clouds drifting peacefully overhead.

Here’s what you don’t see: 1,079 houses and condominiums that New Jersey-based developer Hovnanian Enterprises is proposing to build right here, blacktopping much of this waterfront scenery.

This photo –- and the massive Four Seasons housing project planned here, north of Route 50 in Stevensville, Maryland — is an illustration of weaknesses in Maryland’s environmental and land-use laws. The development may be one of the largest ever built within 1,000 feet of the Chesapeake Bay since the 1984 passage of Maryland’s landmark Critical Areas law, which is supposed to protect waterfront areas.

Four seasons planEconomic development is great, but it should be well planned. And there is no need for a massive construction project like this in fields right on the banks of the Chesapeake Bay. Kent Island is already overwhelmed with residential development and traffic problems, and the waterfront land here is vulnerable to flooding and sea level rise.

On July 24, the Maryland Board of Public Works (made up of Governor Martin O’Malley; Comptroller Peter Franchot; and Treasurer Nancy Kopp) decided not to act on the developer’s request for a state license to destroy wetlands on the 425-acre development site. (The plans for the site are shown at left)

Jay Falstad, Executive Director of the Queen Anne’s Conservation Association (below), shook his head in disgust as he looked out on the fields threatened by the project on a recent morning. “It is our view that putting in this type of development -– to this size and scale -– on the waters of the Chester and the Chesapeake makes no sense,” Falstad said.

“Hopefully, the legislature -– and certainly the governor, the comptroller and the treasurer -– will find a way…to deny the wetlands license and prevent this monstrosity from occurring.”

Jay Falstad at Four Seasons siteThe state board’s decision last week sent the project back down to the Queen Anne’s County government, which approved a controversial development agreement for the project more than a decade ago. The county must now consider a land preservation easement for part of the land that the builders say they will protect as a park. And the local government may also consider amending the development agreement to add additional environmental protections.

Some conservationists believe the county should now go back to the drawing board and reconsider – and hold more public hearings and votes on – the whole project. The developers maintain such a new round of local approvals and hearings will not be necessary.

Four seasons site 3The best resolution now could be to have the state and perhaps partners step in and buy the land, turning it into a public park or wildlife preserve.

The immediate picture is the snapshot at the top of this story: Beautiful waterfront property threatened with yet more ugly suburban sprawl.

But the bigger question is about control over development decisions. Yes, local governments deserve some control over land use within their boundaries. But huge projects such as the Four Seasons can cause harm far beyond municipal boundaries –- including to traffic on state and federal roads, and runoff pollution that flows downstream to contaminate the Chesapeake Bay and other bodies of water.

Four seaons site 4These issues transcend local political boundaries. And so control over projects like this should include more authority for state governments that can step back and take a more global view. The question should be: What’s in the best interests of everybody, not just the best interest of a few developers and local supporters interested in short-term cash.

We all have a stake in a healthy Chesapeake Bay. And so we should all raise our voices to oppose poorly-conceived projects like the Four Seasons.

By Tom Pelton

Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Also keep in mind Hovnanian’s reputation for environmental compliance (NOT), as illustrated by this selection from the first page of a Google search on “Hovnanian” and “fines.”

  1. Hovnanian Enterprises, Inc. Settlement Information Sheet | Civil


    Jump to Civil Penalty – As part of the settlement, Hovnanian has agreed to pay a total civil penalty of $1 million to the United States, the District of Columbia

  2. Hovnanian Enterprises and PulteGroup, Inc. Settle Clean Water Act


    Mar 6, 2013 – (PHILADELPHIA – March 6, 2013) Hovnanian Enterprises, Inc. and PulteGroup, Inc. have agreed to pay civil penalties of $130,000 and $56,000

  3. DOCUMENT: U.S. EPA fines Hovnanian for runoff water


    Apr 22, 2010 – The Morning Journal is your source for all Northeast Ohio 24-hour breaking news, local news, sports, entertainment and more. View daily

  4. Homebuilders to Pay $186K in EPA Case : Durability + Design News


    Mar 11, 2013 – Founded in 1959, Hovnanian operates in 17 states. The company has agreed to settle EPA’s allegations with a $130,000 penalty and other

  5. Hovnanian Fined For EPA Violations – Two River Times


    Hovnanian Fined For EPA Violations. By John Burton. Hovnanian Enterprises, Inc., one of the largest homebuilders in the country, and headquartered in Red

  6. Feds fine top home company $1 million – Severn River Association


    Apr 22, 2010 – Hovnanian Enterprises must pay a $1 million fine and improve its stormwater controls at construction sites as a result of a consent decree

  7. [PDF]

    Stormwater Pollution Prevention.pdf – K. Hovnanian® Homes


    Mar 25, 2010 – working at a. K. Hovnanian site in regard to stormwater compliance. Potential fines are very large; as much as $36,000 per violation, per

  8. Water Pollution | Builder to pay $1 million for pollution violations


    EPA settles with Hovnanian over projects in Md., 17 other states. April 21, 2010|By Timothy B. EPA fines city, counties for pollution violations. October 29, 2010.

  9. Eastern Shore homebuilder investigated for storm water runoff | The

    www.publicintegrity.org › … › Maryland

    Aug 20, 2008 – Hovnanian, which has been fighting for almost a decade to The policy change left builders open to investigation and large fines, and they are

About Bruce

Work for sustainable development of small islands and the Chesapeake Bay; ex-Peace Corps (Volunteer and staff) in LA & Caribbean; cruised Caribbean on S/Y Meander for three years; like small tropical islands, French canals, Umbria, Tasmania, and NZ. Married 52 years to the late Kincey Burdett Potter (see Kincey.org). President of the now-sunsetting Island Resources Foundation.
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