Capital LTE: “Effort to block Crystal Spring compromise is misguided”

Capital Gazette: Letters to the Editor, May 22, 2022

After more than a decade of hard-fought battles and incredible concessions by the owners and National Lutheran, I couldn’t help but breathe a sigh of relief that the fight was at long last over, with final city approval of the senior-only development at Crystal Spring. The opponents, led by environmental champion and former state Sen. Gerald Winegrad, have worked tirelessly and succeeded beyond all expectations in gaining concessions from the developer that make the outcome a major victory for conservation.

The senior facility will be closest to Forest Drive, all forest cleared will be replanted so that all 124 acres there now will remain forever. Stormwater flows should be better than now, major traffic improvements may lessen traffic problems, and all other development of the 176-acre site, other than the 15 acres of impervious surface, is to be permanently eliminated. What more could we have asked for? That’s why all major environmental groups and local leaders support the compromise — from the Sierra Club to Riverkeepers to the father of Smart Growth, former Gov. Parris Glendening, who lives nearby.

But no, a few folks and the newly created Crab Creek Conservancy have sued to block the compromise. Their sole purpose is to block all development of this highly valuable 176-acre property zoned for intensive development. They have no plans or sense of how to raise funds to compensate the owners for losing all development rights. The 176 acres are worth well north of $30 million. If the real concern is Crab Creek, we can never do better, as the best stormwater engineer in Maryland concluded Crab Creek may be better off with the mitigation and improvements made as part of the compromise, including remediation of a polluting stream channel under Spa Road.

Our population is aging and we need senior housing — all retail and non-senior housing has been eliminated. Let’s hope the court rejects the unfounded allegations

Bob Lee, Shady Side

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