- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
An agreement following the illegal clearing of trees on property belonging to a county official and her husband now hinges on the Charles Soil Conservation District, Frank Ward, the county’s chief of codes, inspections and permits, said Tuesday.
The Soil Conservation District, responsible for protecting soil quality, is considering an erosion control plan for land in the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area where a timber contractor removed trees at the request of commissioners’ President Candice Quinn Kelly (D) and her husband, Ed Kelly, but did not apply for a required timbering permit.
The Kellys have said the contractor mistakenly assured them that the 3.2 acres of hillside cleared were outside of the critical area, a 1,000-foot buffer around tidal waters and wetlands imposed in Maryland to protect water quality.
“Most of their property is outside the critical area. That’s what made it a little bit of a unique situation. The contractor, they’re working through details as we speak to get those easement documents prepared and get the property owner’s signature on it. That will be submitted back through the county for final disposition once soil conservation approves the grading sediment control plan,” Ward said.
The Kellys submitted the revised erosion plan, part of an agreement with Charles County government, Monday after the Soil Conservation District rejected an earlier proposal, Ward said.
In addition to taking steps to prevent erosion on the hillside at the Kellys’ historic Chandler’s Hope property in Port Tobacco, the couple must bring about the reforestation of three times as much land within the critical area as the 3.2 acres originally cleared, Ward said. The critical area is land within 1,000 feet of the high tide line of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.
The reforestation will be performed by the contracting company on land its owners control, Ward and Ed Kelly said.
The contracting company was identified by Ward and the Kellys as Calvert Lumber Co. in Port Tobacco.
No one at the company returned calls seeking comment.
The Kellys also owe a $50 fine, stipulated by the Charles County Zoning Ordinance for a first violation.
“So that should be the end of it. Basically, the contractor who did the work, he basically acknowledged error, stepped up and agreed to provide and prepare the necessary permit and, obviously, also provide the land for the mitigation. It’s his land. That’s part of the mitigation. If he would have gotten the permit originally, there would not be any mitigation [required], but because he didn’t get that timber permit there is mitigation for the disturbance,” Ed Kelly said last week.
“It should be pretty straightforward, a matter of getting all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed,” said conservation district manager Luis Dieguez. The plan seems reasonable, and will become public information if accepted, he said, but he would not discuss the plan while it was being reviewed.