Chapman's Landing: Glendening's Big Score

The fate of Chapman's Landing, the brazen plan in Charles County to build a town of 12,000 along the Potomac River, should be understood and remembered.

Gov. Parris Glendening has taken the ball handed him by environmental advocates and promised a court fight to block the massive, 4,600 home development engineered by one of the world's richest men.

The proposed town with offices and shops still might be if the rescue effort fails. But the way it looks, Glendening may have stepped in at the right time with a $30 million pot of state money to turn this prized acreage into a park and nature preserve. He's also threatened eminent domain to seize the land for the state.

This was an important turn of events that should please Marylanders. Maryland is short of state parks and public waterfront to begin with. And the scope of this proposal was way out of bounds.

This 2,250-acre jewel of the Chesapeake region would have come under the domain of Kjell Inge Rokke of Norway. He is called "Fisher King" because he operates factory trawlers around the world, one of the reasons that global fishing stocks have plummeted to dangerous lows in recent years.

Maryland could not sit back and permit Mattawoman Creek - one of the state's prized fisheries - and all of this spectacular acreage to be degraded by a rapacious development under the control of foreign interests indifferent to sustainability.

Yet Glendening is taking a political risk. Many in Charles County support the proposal because of the economic bonanza it would bring. Others may resent the state's intrusion or the cost. Still others, among them the permanent class of Glendening's detractors, won't give him the credit he deserves.

One way to look at it is to think of who, among the gubernatorial wannabes in Maryland, would have saved this land. Would Republican aspirant Ellen Sauerbrey have stepped in? Doesn't sound like her cup of tea.

How about Democratic hopeful Eileen M. Rehrmann, the Howard County executive who is kicking up a lot of dust? Unlikely because she hasn't been willing to protect parcels in her own county.

For Glendening, the political calculus may be a bit hard to figure. That's okay; he's doing the right thing.

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VolumeVI Number 14
April 9-15, 1998
New Bay Times

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