PTRC President Jerry Forbes testified before the Charles County Planning commission on Tuesday, June 22, opposing a zoning map amendment for the proposed Washington Glen project near the intersection of Billingsley and Middletown Roads. This project would convert 137 acres in the present-day “deferred development district” to medium residential zoning, an increase in density of 30 times. Nearly all of the tract is in the headwaters of the Port Tobacco River.
Here is his testimony.
Good evening. My name is Jerry Forbes and I am the President of the Board of Directors of the Port Tobacco River Conservancy. Since 2001, PTRC has worked with businesses, residents, local and state governments, and other conservation groups to restore and protect the Port Tobacco River and streams in the watershed. PTRC balances restoration and protection with economic development concerns and the value of its river and watershed to both the local and state economies.
I urge you to adopt the recommendation of the Department of Planning and Growth Management Staff Report and deny the requested rezoning for the Washington Glen project. This project would be located on 136 acres of land in the headwaters of the Port Tobacco River. We believe this property’s current zoning, Rural Conservation Deferred Development District, or RC(D), provides the needed protection for this environmentally sensitive area. This would not be the case if the property were rezoned to allow medium to high-density residential development.
The Importance of Headwater Streams
Stream health indicators such as macro-invertebrates decline noticeably whenever impervious surfaces (roofs, paved parking lots) within watersheds exceeds 10 percent. Impervious surfaces change the rate and route in which water enters the stream system, they prevent infiltration, change the flow regime within the stream system and prevent groundwater recharge, which impacts the dry weather base flow of the streams. Runoff from impervious surfaces also increases the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and suspended solids in the water. The effects of these changes are particularly critical when they occur in headwater streams, as they affect downstream water quality.
This property contains over 3,500 feet of unnamed tributaries of the Port Tobacco Creek, all of which is surrounded by forest. The property’s current uses of forest and agriculture are consistent with RC(D) zoning, which is intended to preserve the rural environment and natural features of the area, while maintaining low density residential development and existing agricultural activities. These uses are far better suited to protecting the health of these headwater streams than the proposed use of medium to high density residential development will be.
Goals of the WRAS
The County and the public have already agreed on the ecological, aesthetic, scenic, recreational, and economic value of a healthy Port Tobacco watershed. In 2007, the County adopted for implementation the Watershed Restoration Action Strategy (WRAS) for the Port Tobacco River. One of the stated goals of the WRAS is to mitigate future changes to watershed hydrology, and the WRAS recommends preserving 50% of the Port Tobacco watershed.
The Chesapeake Bay TMDL
The County also must consider its obligations under the Chesapeake Bay TMDL, which establishes annual total nitrogen, total phosphorus, and total suspended solids (sediment) allocations for the watershed areas draining into the Chesapeake Bay.
A specific example of concern is the wetlands near the Route 6 bridge and Rose Hill road. For the past 40–50 years, the Port Tobacco Creek has eroded and deepened because of the increased volume of storm water from developments with impervious surfaces and discharges from waste water treatment plants. This has left the former wetland south of the bridge dry, driving out the waterfowl, other birds, and wildlife that once lived there and no longer filtering out nutrients and sediment. The county in partnership with a landowner has a project to restore the highly eroded stream banks and bottom to allow the natural overflow of the stream to go into the former wetlands south of the bridge. The County’s investment in this project could be put in jeopardy if there are significant changes in upstream headwaters hydrology due to runoff from added impervious surfaces.
For all these reasons, we ask you to adopt the recommendation of the planning staff and deny this requested rezoning to protect the health of the Port Tobacco River and its watershed for generations to come. Thank you for listening!
Join us on Thursday, June 25, from 6:30 to 8:30 at the Port Tobacco Marina Restaurant for our next Port Tobacco Green Drinks. We will be celebrating PTRC’s 14th birthday! Admission is free.
Green Drinks is a social network for those who are interested in environmental issues. It’s a great way to meet up, to make new friends, to create job opportunities, and to just have fun. The Port Tobacco Marina Restaurant is located at 7536 Shirley Blvd, Port Tobacco.
Enjoy the Restaurant’s Thirsty Thursday Specials:
- $4 Rails
- $3 Shooters
- $2 Regular domestic drafts
The Restaurant will donate 10% of food sales to PTRC.
Hope to see you there!
Join us Thursday, April 16, as Kirk Mantay, Watershed Restoration Director of the South River Federation, tells us how they are bringing Church Creek back to life and how we can use the same practices in Charles County watersheds. The meeting is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.
Time: 7:00 to 9:00 pm
Location: Holiday Inn Express Banquet Hall, 6860 Crain Hwy, La Plata, MD 20646
Port Tobacco River Conservancy is teaming up with the Alice Ferguson Foundation for the 27th Annual Potomac River Clean Up on Saturday, April 11, 2015.
We will be at Chapel Point State Park, 8160 Pisces Rd, Port Tobacco MD 20677, from noon to 3:00 pm. We will supply bags, gloves, drinking water and snacks.
Please come join us to have fun and to help make our river more beautiful.
For more information, please contact: Julie at email@example.com or Krupa at firstname.lastname@example.org
Casino Royale Featuring Sam Grow Band!
Get your tickets now before this event sells out!
Enjoy a wonderful evening of music, great food, and gambling while supporting the Port Tobacco River Conservancy in its efforts to protect and restore the Port Tobacco River and its watershed.
Join us at the Waldorf Jaycees Center, 3090 Crain Hwy, beginning at 7:00 p.m.
Tickets are $50 each or 10 for $475 and include a free glass of wine, beer or soft drink.
Buy your tickets online at porttobaccoriver.org or email email@example.com
Tina Wilson, PTRC’s new water monitoring coordinator, joined Jim Long and others from the Mattawoman Watershed Society on Sunday in sampling for anadromous fish eggs at five locations in the Mattawoman Creek watershed. Anadromous fish are those, like yellow perch and herring, that migrate from the sea to fresh water to spawn. The team also measured water temperature, conductivity, and dissolved oxygen levels.
It was a bracing day to be outdoors, with gusts of wind high in the trees and swift currents in the creek and its tributaries. There were vernal pools at almost every site and many contained clusters of frog and salamander eggs. The spring peepers and wood frogs could be heard in the surrounding woods.
PTRC will be participating in the Stream Waters program sponsored by Maryland DNR this year, beginning in the next couple weeks. We will be sampling for benthic macroinvertebrates. These insect larvae, worms, crustaceans, and other small critters live in stream sediments and are indicator species of stream health. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to help out.
Casino Royale Featuring Sam Grow Band!
Real Money Games, Silent Auction, and Much More!
Save the date, Friday, March 27, 2015, 7:00 PM- 11:00 PM. It could be your lucky night!
This year’s spring fundraiser will be held at the Greater Waldorf Jaycee Center and will feature the Sam Grow Band, returning home to Southern Maryland from Nashville for one evening.
The Jaycees will offer their signature heavy hors d’oeuvres including crab cakes and carved roast beef.
Tickets are $50 each or 10 for $475 and include a free glass of wine, beer or soft drink. Buy your tickets online at porttobaccoriver.org (top, right sidebar) or email email@example.com
Enjoy a wonderful evening while supporting the Port Tobacco River Conservancy in its efforts to protect and restore the Port Tobacco River and its watershed.
For more information, see our Casino Royale Fundraiser page.
Tomorrow’s meeting with Kirk Mantay is POSTPONED due to the weather. We will let you know when we have a new date for this meeting. We did go visit South River Federation today and had a great time. Kirk Mantay had so much information to offer. We can’t wait to have him here for his presentation.