|On Development, Owens Grapples with Heavyweights
Anne Arundel County Executive Janet Owens had better return from vacation ready to rumble.
In the battle over Safeway's proposed Deale Marketplace, heavyweight Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller has jumped into the ring. Writing to Anne Arundel County Executive Janet Owens in a letter dated July 14, Miller asked Owens to put the off-again, on-again project on hold.
On the same day, another heavyweight slammed the absent county executive by letter. Making it a tag team was USinternetworking Inc. executive vice president Jeffery L. McKnight Sr. Development was on McKnight's mind too. He complained that the 135,000-square-foot Wal-Mart proposed for Parole would spoil the corporate neighborhood.
USinternetworking Inc. is just the kind of gold mine Owens wants for the county. Accused of stifling economic development with her environment-minded ways, she's countered by actively courting high-tech corporate citizens.
Now the biggest of them is complaining. Entrepreneur Christopher McCleary settled his growth company in Parole in anticipation of the old Parole Plaza's planned redevelopment as a friendly mall where pedestrians would wander among streetfront stores and shops. That was a substance of McKnight's letter, first reported in The Sun and confirmed by Owens' offfice.
But the Plaza's owner wants a Wal-Mart, which came a big step closer to reality this month when a bill limiting development size - Councilwoman Barbara Samorajczyk's 'Big Box Bill' - died in the county council.
McKnight expressed disappointment in his letter, but apparently made no threats or demands.
On the Deale development, on the other hand, Miller made very specific suggestions. "I urge you to place the project on hold until there can be an open and impartial forum at which the opponents of the Safeway project could present their data and refute that provided by Safeway," Miller wrote.
He also suggested Owens appoint an independent panel to "review the entire project, study the environmental impact and assess issues of congestion."
In the past six months, Anne Arundel County's Department of Planning and Code Enforcement has been of two minds about that controversial development. In January, the department's acting director rejected the supermarket developer's request for that waiver that would allow its proposed 88,000 square-foot supermarket and shopping complex to be built on a floodplain at the intersections of Route 258 and 256. Miller noted that that decision cited "a real threat to the biological integrity of the Chesapeake Bay."
But in June, the Department overturned its earlier decision. Wrote Miller: "the new director of PACE, abruptly and without a hearing or prior notice to the affected parties, issued a finding that no waiver would be required. His decision appears to be based on information submitted by Safeway engineers without providing opponents opportunity to review and comment."
Politically, Miller is turning up the heat on Owens. Anne Arundel County depends on state goodwill for much of its budget, and the senate president and county executive have been working together harmoniously.
In doing so, both are overcoming past differences. In the 1998 Democratic primary, Miller snubbed Owens, going outside the party to recruit Republican renegade Diane Evans to run against John Gary. His queen-making failed. Owens trounced Evans in the primary and Gary in the general election.
How Owens will respond to either letter when she returns from vacation is uncertain. "She hasn't seen them," said Owens' chief of communications, Judy Pederson.
Down in Southern Anne Arundel, some are welcoming the senate president into the ring. "I think Miller makes a good proposal," said Ron Wolfe, chairman of the Deale-Shady Side Small Area Planning Committee. The committee of citizens was convened by Owens immediately after her election as community planning advisors for the region that includes the proposed Safeway.
"In light of all the planning work our committee has gone through over the last year and a half, this one project has the potential to have a lot of negative impact."
On the small area planning committee, support for Miller's proposal is bipartisan. "Considering there's never been a forum where citizens get to hear how decisions are made, it's not a bad idea," said Bobby Sturgell. Sturgell, another citizen on the planning committee, ran as a Republican for Miller's seat in the '98 election.
Families, Storms Gather for Calvert County Farm Tour
Sunday's rain did not dampen the spirits of children visiting local farms at the 2000 Calvert County Farm Tour. Despite the threat of ominous storm clouds in the distance, their enthusiasm was clear as they took wagon tours and petted miniature horses.
Stormy weather only allowed for about an hour and a half of fun, but families took that time to visit and enjoy three farms that continue Calvert County's agricultural tradition.
At Swann Farms, in Lower Marlboro, over 150 visitors learned about seed-planting, flint-napping and farm safety. As the rain started to fall, children dashed for the seed-planting stand for take-home foam cups with soil and seeds to begin their own miniature farms.
Visitors saw that farming was not only alive in Calvert County but also well, as farmers work to preserve natural resources, practice outdoor safety and protect the environment. Families learned that farmers are working hard to protect soil, water, air, plant and animal resources, and they were urged to continue these practices in their own yards by composting, using fertilizer correctly and choosing alternatives to pesticide.
Pin Oak Farm in St. Leonard had animals as its attraction. Huchison's miniature horses stood still for petting or showed off their paces in training. Pulling horses, foxhounds, cows, chickens and sheep also lured visitors.
The only regret among farmers and families was that it couldn't last longer. The tour started at 1pm and thunderstorms moved in at about 2pm, continuing for most of the day.
"It was hoppin' while the weather held," said Betty Knapp of Loch Less Farm, who helped out at Swann Farms.
It Couldve Been Me
I could have written that Dock of the Bay story.
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If youre aspiring, just as good. Here at Bay Weekly, we call ourself a teaching newspaper. Our editors are not only seasoned, prize-winning journalists but also experienced college professors. If you dream of writing and are not afraid of either jumping right in or doing hard work, Bay Weekly is the place to test your dreams. Our interns and contributors have gone on to big things.
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New Read on the Bay
If your synonym for Chesapeake Bay is boating, you're likely a reader of Chesapeake Bay Magazine. The monthly magazine has been around in one form or another for about 30 years, says editor Tim Sayles. With the tag line "boating at its best," the magazine reports on boating sales and service, performance and products, and destinations for boaters under sail or high on power.
With the birth last month of Chesapeake Travel and Leisure, landlubbers come into the fold. The every-other monthly periodical covers Chesapeake Country from the Susquehanna to Suffolk and all "the nooks and crannies in between," according to Sayles, who edits both Sunrise Media publications.
Response was "overwhelming," according to Sayles, who says the enthusiasm proved the magazine "was exactly what we thought it would be. It proved not only do boaters want a guide to the Chesapeake, but non-boaters as well, and that the land dimension of the Chesapeake is as worthy of exploring" as the water.
It helped, of course, that subscriptions were offered free to current subscribers of Chesapeake Bay, the boating magazine. In three weeks, 7,000 responded. Subscribers continue to respond in numbers that seem to assure an avid interest in B&Bs, boardwalk shows, day trips and dining in places where time stands still or races on, where eagles soar, fish jump and fireflies flicker - all themes of the premier edition.
In that first edition, readers also learned how to think globally and act locally. Among the features was a piece on Calvin Phipps, of Deale, a marine surveyor who started collecting old oyster cans 30 years ago. Now so collectible that you might see them on the Antiques Road Show, the tins are cultural icons of our past.
Sayles describes himself as a "wide-eyed newcomer" to Chesapeake Bay. He grew up in Northern Virginia and says his awareness of the Eastern Shore was "going over the Bay Bridge on the way to vacations in Rehoboth Beach." After a stint with Mid-Atlantic Country, a now defunct travel and leisure magazine, and a four-year "crash course" at the helm of Chesapeake Bay Magazine, he's no longer "new to it."
Still wide-eyed about Bay Country, Sales wants to tell people who read this new travel and leisure magazine "not just where to eat, sleep and shop," but to dig deeper into the region. "People want to understand these places, soak up the flavor and really understand and appreciate it for more than just the crab dip at a restaurant," he says. "We're writing to an intelligent audience. These people travel with all their senses - eyes, ears, noses - wide open. My hope is to give them something that feeds all those senses."
Here's what Sayles has in store for your senses in the September issue of Chesapeake Travel and Leisure, coming to subscribers and newsstands in early August.
Featured will be "My Shore Is Better than Your Shore." Managing editor Jim Duffy and writer Martha LeGrand traveled 1,200 miles of both shores to square off with dueling pieces about the Western Shore and Eastern Shore. You'll have to read it yourself to find out if there's a winner.
Also featured will be contributor Nancy Allison's take on Solomons Island. Allison, who used to live in Solomons, reports that "bustle is only skin deep." There'll also be a piece on the Adkins Arboretum in Ridgeley, Maryland, dedicated to Native plants.
Sayles says he hopes every issue will have a "think piece" of the caliber of Tom Horton's "Blue Crab Blues" in the June issue, a serious look at imported crabmeat. In the upcoming issue, George Reiger of Field and Stream Magazine writes on the alien species that are invading Bay country.
Future issues will have regular departments, among them the "Inn Adviser," which will highlight five or six bed and breakfasts or inns. John Shields, widely known for his program on Maryland Public Television, has signed on to write the regular series "Chesapeake Kitchen."
"I will go places," Sayles vows, "to capture the spirit of the Chesapeake for our readers."
In a Berry Nice Summer, a Little Rain Must Fall
What a difference a year makes. After a handful of near-drought summers, we are sitting pretty and poised to reap the benefits of abundant rainfall. A past preoccupation of keeping bird baths full is a chore no more. Our best exercise is now mental, guaging when to mow between showers and watching not just grass but the whole environment around us grow green and great.
In the fields, corn grows tall enough to touch an elephants eye, if any elephant came around to measure. Leaf is lush, tomatoes tower, peppers proliferate, squash spread, cucumbers climb. Only lettuce is limp and past its prime. With summer gardens kept moist by Mother Nature, I can focus on a ripening fruity feast of raspberries and blueberries, growing fat and full. A former neighbors gift of two young plants of golden raspberry now fills an eight-foot by four-foot raised bed. Four bushy blueberry plants of mixed variety are laden with fruit. Part purple, part green, they look like tiny globes of land and sea.
As my blueberries ripen to an even color and the birds help themselves to remaining raspberries my thoughts drift lazily. What is it about summer fruit that sharpens our memories and tempts our taste buds?
For me, the picture of my mother making jelly with grapes plucked from our shady backyard arbor remains a powerful image of contentment. With fascination, my sister and I watched Mama squeeze the cooked fruit through cheese cloth as we picked at paraffin squares stacked and soon to be melted and poured into jars on top of hot grape jelly that never hardened but was later smeared on pancakes.
I cant hope to make jelly like Mama. The sweet, syrupy goo might harden like its supposed to, and that wouldnt be the same on pancakes. So maybe Ill make muffins with my blueberries, leave a bush or two for the birds and thank Mother Nature for the bounty of both moisture and memories.
Into every summertime, a little rain must fall. When it does, luscious fruit follows, teasing our memory and testing our tastebuds.
In Delaware, researchers investigating a fish kill near the Indian River concluded last week that the 50,000 dead menhaden were not afflicted with Pfiesteria ...
Hawaii longline fishermen are tired of rules limiting their catches. Last week, they began running television ads to fight back. One ad began: "It'll be a sad day in Hawaii if we're serving cheese and crackers instead of sashimi..."
In Iowa, a guy named Mike Murphy became so enraged over sewer problems in the town of Delta that he collected contents of his toilet and splattered them around a city council meeting. He was charged with improper disposal of hazardous waste and tossed in jail - where the toilets were working ...
Our Creature Feature comes from Florida, where a court case in the town of Stuart reflects the battle between Old Florida and New Florida. The Florida Club is suing pig farmer Thomas Rossano for not just his smelly barnyard but also for his insistence on playing loud country music which, he said, soothes the hogs.
Jurors selected last week will be taken to the farm to sniff and listen. They were asked about their music preferences as well as their feelings about pigs. One potential juror was dismissed when she said she once had a pot-bellied pig as a pet.