Commissioners still aren’t looking at the big picture

Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2008

This is in response to the Maryland Independent article, ‘‘Officials mull rezoning impact” [Maryland Independent, Sept. 12]: As we continue this saga, three of our five county commissioners oooh and aaahh over Chaney Enterprises’ small gravel washing plant in St. Mary’s County. They seem to be refusing to look at the big picture.

If this rezoning request is approved, the 150 acres in Hughesville may be the largest single tract of heavy industrial zoned land in the state of Maryland. Frank Chaney is suggesting that if (5 percent chance more than a dozen years from now) he moves his gravel washing operation to Hughesville, it would only occupy approximately eight acres. Add to that the 10 to 15 acres for the College of Southern Maryland and the American Red Cross (incredibly small space to build these two structures) and that leaves approximately 125 acres that no one seems to be addressing.

The oohs and aahs over the relatively small space the potential gravel washing plant would occupy would seem to be a diversion. The remaining 125 acres will be sold. Even with the ‘‘proffer” offered to the county, after the official close of the public record — which would seem an illegal move by Chaney and require another public hearing process — considered, we are talking about a huge impact on a rural village. Heavy industrial zoning in a rural area, especially of this magnitude, is absolutely absurd.

Let’s end this show. It’s an insult to our intelligence and a waste of our time. The commissioners approved the Hughesville revitalization plan. The reasonable and intelligent thing to do is devote our resources to realizing that plan instead of humoring or entertaining the wants, desires and personal dreams of a developer. Commissioners, put the community first.

Pauleen Brewer, Hughesville