NIMBY Convention and Whine Fest draws more than 300 to St. John’s College

| June 4, 2014 | 9 Comments

mob_440UPDATE:  Gerald Winegrad has sent us an email response from the Mayor’s assistant indicating that the Mayor was indeed invited prior to the day before the event. We did not have access to the email as it was sent to a personal Yahoo account. We regret the error and have corrected the copy below to reflect.

More than 300 people attended a meeting to ostensibly discuss Forest Drive traffic in Annapolis last night at the Key Auditorium at St. John’s College.  While I had every intention of covering this as a news event, upon reflection, it is probably best addressed as an editorial. I welcome your comments!

Cliffs Notes Version

  • A retired PennDot Engineer said traffic was bad
  • A citizen said traffic was bad
  • A former state senator from the early 90s said traffic was bad and droned on about the Forest Conservation Act
  • Everyone said Crystal Springs was evil and they distributed pitchforks, brooms and lighter fluid
  • The only solution acceptable to the group was an immediate moratorium on all development anywhere near Forest Drive
  • The collection plate was passed asking for money to fight the evil that lurks–payable to the Severn Riverkeeper interestingly enough
  • Many sheeple came to the microphone and said that traffic was bad and pledged thousands of dollars

Opinion

I think we can all agree that traffic is an issue and it is one that needs to be addressed; and by addressing it, that implies that a conversation might be had. It appeared that the group of people assembled in the Francis Scott Key Auditorium last night had no intention of any discussions…ever! They wanted a complete moratorium and were soliciting money to mount a legal challenge to obtain that.

This NIMBY attitude somewhat reinforces the Crystal Spring representatives’ assertion that the group is simply out to obstruct.

Very little actual traffic discussion was had. They talked about two recent accidents, glossed over some studies that showed adequacy of the roads with improvement and moved onto the meat of the matter–Crystal Spring.

[The organizers invited the Mayor via an assistant who responded from a personal email account acknowledging the Mayor had a prior commitment] In fact, Mayor Mike Pantelides was only invited [again] to address the group on June 2nd–the day before. And then was lambasted by former state Senator Winegrad in an email because the Mayor had a previous commitment and could not attend. The “forum” was also scheduled at a time when planning and zoning representatives could not attend–there was a hearing on the Royal Farms project at the same time–a hearing that had been scheduled for months. Did the organizers even want the City to have a seat at the table?

If the meeting was about traffic, why wasn’t it brought up that the City has no real actionable plan for moving traffic in the event of an incident?  The City says they have had two meetings to discuss this–but as with everything in the City, nothing moves swiftly.

There was no discussion about the improvements proposed by Crystal Spring under the latest revised plans.

There was talk about the impossibility of a parallel roadway–hello Hilltop Lane is a parallel roadway. Hello…there is (I am pretty sure) only a small piece of property between Bywater and Spa for a parallel roadway to be constructed.

People did not discuss how they opposed the widening of Forest Drive and criticized the Leopold administration for the project (Bywater to Hilltop), yet the finished product eased congestion by leaps and bounds.

They did talk about the assumed traffic burden by Crystal Spring; but neglected to consider the assumptions that the seniors that live there do not typically add to a rush hour congestion, the planned shuttle the development proposes, and the roadway improvements.

They briefly talked about the overcrowded schools. Yes, they are overcrowded and the schools need to do something about them; but is Crystal Spring really going to impact the schools that significantly?  How many of the blue-haired walker club have school aged children? But what about the 126 townhomes that are not age restricted? Honestly, how many families will move into a townhome in the midst of a glorified  upscale nursing home, with prices in the $400K+ range, in the Annapolis feeder system?  If they have the money, they are going to be in Severna Park, Edgewater, Broadneck or enrolling their kids in private school.  Sure there may be a few kids, but realistically…probably less than a handful–hardly a huge burden.

Yesterday, a new property went up for lease on COUNTY land at the intersection of Georgetown and Bay Ridge. Nothing was mentioned about the 75,000 SF project that will include retail and commercial.

The group is calling for study after study before any action–studies that will not be completed in this decade. Are they hoping to die off before the first shovel is placed?  And ironically, based on the sheeple testimony, many of them live in developments that were created by the exact same process that is being considered now–but now that’s different.

Crystal Spring Defense FundIf the meeting was about traffic, why were envelopes soliciting money distributed to the audience to support the “Crystal Spring Defense Fund?” Any why are checks payable to the Severn Riverkeeper when the project is actually on the SOUTH River–oh that’s right, the South River Federation is willing to work with Crystal Spring to develop a responsible project.

If there is one thing we can never stop it is the future.  Tomorrow is coming — like it or not.  It is up to us to make the best of each day as it comes. Certainly the residents of the area (of which I am one) should not blindly accept the proposal of Crystal Spring or any development without consideration. But when you have a group that has essentially defined their position as “we are halting the future,” I can’t see any reason to have them be a part of the conversation.  They appear to be unwilling to even listen. Development (in some form) will always come. As responsible citizens, it is our job to make sure it is done responsibly and legally. The US does not negotiate with terrorists (so they tell us). Parents do not negotiate with little kids throwing a hissy fit in the Giant. So where is the incentive for the City and developers of any project to negotiate here?

My advice to the opposition to Crystal Spring is to become a bit more realistic, come to the table willing to discuss and negotiate. I bet in the end there may be a solution that we all can live with. It is not going to be the grandiose plans of Janet Richardson Pearson and Crystal Spring; nor will it be the total moratorium of the opponents.

And food food for thought….two words….Key School!  The community fought St. Mary’s and won the battle. But when Key School became involved they lost the war. The Annapolis Roads will be developed as an “outdoor educational/recreational facility.”  But with the departure of the long-time head of school and the shifting priorities of their Board of Trustees–don’t be surprised to see that become a full blown lower or upper school campus in the relative near future. Possession, they say, is 9/10 of the law.  You heard it here first.

You can read The Capital’s coverage here.

 

 

 

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About the Author ()

John is the publisher and editor of Eye On Annapolis. As a resident and business owner in Anne Arundel County for more than 15 years, he realized that there was something missing in terms of community news–and Eye On Annapolis was born in late spring 2009.

John’s background is in the travel industry as a business owner, industry speaker, and travel writer. In terms of blogging and social media, he cut his teeth with MSNBC.com.