I know all of our members care deeply about the Nanticoke River and its watershed. We want this beautiful treasure to remain healthy for both people and wildlife. This desire is what motivates me to work on behalf of the river wherever it seems needed. I find I am always learning new ways to address the river’s challenges, connecting with people across the spectrum, from the farmers who live closest to the land to the Maryland Department of the Environment staffers who decide how (or whether) state laws will be applied on the local level. And I am continually amazed at number of people who know and want to protect this river. But there are also those who view compromising the river’s health and water quality as necessary in the push for greater financial gain. They do not understand that the river is connected directly with whatever we do on the land. It is also connected with what happens in its tributaries, creeks with names like Broad, Marshyhope, Wetipquin, and Rewastico.
It is in the Rewastico Creek portion of the river where we are currently fighting one of our most important battles. Please see below for details of this endeavor. And thank you for your continuing support as we move forward on all fronts!
The Friends of the Nanticoke River have joined over 20 Hebron citizens and nearby residents, plus the Wicomico Environmental Trust, Inc. to file for judicial review of the March 4, 2009 zoning action approval for Waller Landing by the Town Commissioners of Hebron. An initial Petition for Judicial Review was filed by T.J. Mumford, III, whose historic farm is adjacent to the development site.
The Waller Landing Master Plan proposes 1691 residential units in addition to 450,000 square feet of commercial space on farmland that was annexed into Hebron in 2005. This development would transform Hebron from a small village of approximately 850 residents to a sprawling city of approximately 5,000-6,000 residents, requiring new schools, a major investment in fire and police protection, in roads, and in water and sewer infrastructure that is nonexistent and environmentally unwise.
The existing Hebron Wastewater Treatment Plant discharges into Rewastico Creek. The proposed development has no specified plans for the discharge of its wastewater, but this small and beautiful creek is the only available option for surface water discharge, and the volume of flow would seriously impact the water quality and the wildlife that depend on it. The Friends have repeatedly expressed our concern for the potential detrimental effect of this development upon Rewastico Creek, and those concerns were behind the appeal, which was filed in the Circuit Court for Wicomico County.
The appeal is being handled by legal counselors K. King Burnett and Mike Pretl. While they are working at a reduced rate, the legal fees to take the appeal forward are already very substantial.
I would be most grateful if you would consider a contribution to help cover the cost of this appeal. Rewastico Creek is a vital part of the Nanticoke River, and your help is very much needed at this time. Should you be able to contribute, you may send a tax-deductible donation to the Friends of the Nanticoke River, P.O. Box 15, Nanticoke, MD 21840. And if you have already contributed, THANK YOU!!
Growth and Land Preservation
As most of you know, our efforts to make a change in Wicomico County’s agricultural zoning stalled in the County Council when legislation was rejected on May 5. However, County Executive Rick Pollitt and Council President John Cannon have both stated their intention to reach a resolution to this problem within the next 2 months. Efforts are underway to design a farmland preservation package that might satisfy opponents of rezoning and also provide much-needed backing at the County level for farmland conservation. Stay tuned!!
Middleford North Preserve addition
The Friends contributed in March to The Nature Conservancy in Delaware to assist with its purchase a 25- acre addition to the 440-acre Middleford North Preserve in Sussex County. A short distance upstream from Seaford, the preserve is located on Gravelly Branch, a tributary of the Nanticoke River that meanders through upland forests, riparian wetlands, and Atlantic white cedar swamps. These systems provide habitat for more than a dozen globally or locally imperiled species.