Letters to the Editor

Volume VI Number 20
May 21-27, 1998

A Plea From Shady Side's Front Line of Preservation

Dear New Bay Times~Weekly:

We know you care about the delicate environment of the Chesapeake Bay. And we believe you're not afraid to take a stand. Neither are we. That's how we got into this ugly mess.

Like you, we're just regular people with jobs, children and mortgages to pay. A little over a year ago, days before Christmas, men showed up at our doors with subpoenas and informed us we were being sued. For $50.2 million! Imagine it. One day, life is normal. The next, you stand to lose everything - your house, your savings, your children's futures.

A big developer in the Washington/Baltimore area was accusing us - and everybody involved in our grassroots organization, South Arundel Citizens for Responsible Development (SACReD) - of defaming his reputation.

Why? Because we were - and are - fighting to save Franklin Point, a delicate web of marshes, creeks, ponds and meadows on the Chesapeake Bay, south of Annapolis. For three years, working nights and weekends out of our dining rooms and kitchens, we've opposed the developer's plans to build Baldwin's Choice, another subdivision of luxury homes. No matter how swank those houses are, once the trees are cleared, tidepools are filled, roads are constructed, foundations are poured and sewer pipes are laid, Franklin Point, 477-acres of natural wetlands - the only remaining greenspace on this section of the Bay's Western Shore - is dead. Gone. Forever.

We knew we could not give in to intimidation. And that's what we think this lawsuit is about - intimidation. We believe it's a tactic designed to silence our opposition, to frighten us so we'll stop speaking out. Make no mistake, we're frightened. We haven't slept well at night since the men showed up at our doors. But we know that saving Franklin Point is critical to the Chesapeake Bay's future.

Based on motions filed by SACReD, the county's Board of Appeals has turned down the developer's appeal for a waiver of the Adequate Facilities Law. A waiver would have put more children into our already overcrowded schools. Denial of the waiver means construction of Baldwin's Choice will be delayed for months, if not years.

But we, meanwhile, are going to court. Our efforts to settle this senseless lawsuit have failed. So on May 26, we'll face the developer in Superior Court in Washington, D.C. We're being forced to take weeks away from our businesses and jobs to be tried. We have a wonderful Washington law firm, Covington and Burling, which has worked hundreds of hours on our behalf without pay, but we must cover their copying, court fees, transcripts and more.

We can't do this without your help. Together, we've managed to hold off construction of Baldwin's Choice with little more than our wits. But this $50.2 million lawsuit has stretched our organization's resources beyond their limits. We have each dug deep into our pockets. We're asking you to do the same. If you can donate $100 to our legal defense fund, we will be able to pay the $20,000 in expenses we will owe. If you can not give that much, please send whatever you can. All donations to SACReD are tax deductible.

This is the time we need you most. We won't be intimidated. We're not afraid to make a stand. Stand with us.

- Mike Bevenour, Tom Duvall, Brett Joseph, Jim Foster (On behalf of all the people who make up SACReD)

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