Press Release

BALTIMORE, MD (October 2, 1997) -- The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has denied the wetlands and waterways permit application of Summitt Hill Inc. for a proposed access crossing for the Summitt Hill III subdivision in St. Mary's County. The proposed crossing would have impacted almost an acre of nearly pristine wetlands.

In reaching its decision, the department considered all information submitted by the applicant, the public and other agencies. The department evaluated several options submitted by the developer before reaching its decision. The most attractive option from an economic standpoint would have resulted in the greatest filling of wetlands and was unacceptable because of the effect on drainage and wetland habitat, including fish and wildlife passage.

The health of the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem is linked to the abundance and condition of the wetlands in the bay watershed. Nontidal wetlands possess many of the same physical and biological characteristics as tidal wetlands and perform similar functions. Wetlands provide fish and wildlife habitat (including habitat for rare, threatened and endangered species), erosion control, water quality improvement, flood control, production of organic matter for the food chain, timber production, recreational opportunities and scenic beauty.

The improvement of water quality in the Patuxent River has been the target of a combined state and multi-county effort to protect the tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The department determined that the general public interest would best be served by avoiding impairment of water quality, habitat function and benefits provided by wetlands associated with a tributary to the Patuxent River. The public need for access to the Summitt Hill III subdivision and existing residential housing would best be served by improving the condition of Mount Wolf Road.The applicant has the right to appeal the department's decision through MDE's administrative process or through the courts. The applicant also has the right to reapply for approval of a modified project. State approval may be withheld until all county approvals are obtained.