- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
In reading a recent article about Mr. Donnelly’s efforts to construct a commercial pier on his and adjacent properties in Solomons [“Solomons landowners fight for rights to build commercial piers,” Sept. 21, The Calvert Recorder], I’m struck by the insular nature of his argument. He cites a 1958 agreement between the effected property owners and the state of Maryland that allowed the state to construct a bulkhead and back-fill to create what is now the major parking lot on the island in exchange for the loss of the individual property owners’ riparian rights, which might include oyster leases. Exempt from the impact to each property owner is the continued right to construct a pier outside of this new bulkhead.
While Mr. Donnelly will argue his case in front of others, there are two issues that he fails to take into consideration in his petition:
1) There has been a paradigm shift in transportation in Calvert County and, most noticeably, in Solomons since 1958. In 1958, the Calvert population hovered somewhere between 12,000 and 16,000 people, most of whom earned their income from farming and fishing. To add to this historic vision, in the communities surrounding Solomons, students were transported to school by boat. The pier had a completely different function than that which Mr. Donnelly envisions; it had a very utilitarian role of allowing residents and their children access to their boats for fishing and travel and, upon their return, access back to land. It is in this context that I believe the state of Maryland allowed the individual property owners the continued right to construct a pier for their own use — that use being fishing, crabbing and recreational boating.
2) As anyone who has been on the island when all of the commercial properties were in operation can attest, parking in the communal parking lot was difficult. There are several businesses, including two restaurants, that are not in operation at the moment, but upon their return, I believe we will once again place a strain upon the existing parking. In short, there is a carrying capacity for parking in Solomons, and I would argue that Mr. Donnelly’s vision will only exacerbate the problem.
In closing, I do not oppose the construction of piers for private use as agreed to by the state of Maryland in 1958; this is a property rights issue that appears to have precedence. I do, however, oppose development that is well beyond the intent and only further impacts an already fragile economy.
Bob Pfeiffer, Port Republic