Letter to Editor: Chestertown Can Do Better

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Gas stations generate pollutants, including petroleum products and trash. When it rains, stormwater picks up these pollutants – that’s why it’s critical to install systems to filter this water before it runs into nearby streams.

The new Royal Farms in Chestertown sits directly next to Radcliffe Creek, which empties into the Chester south of Wilmer Park. Thanks to the observation and persistence of the Chester River Association, this gas station is now in compliance with Maryland’s minimum requirements for stormwater management –rain gardens are capturing and filtering 50% of stormwater generated on site.

But Chestertown can do better. While the Royal Farms gas station meets the minimum requirements of Maryland’s regulations, local municipalities have the authority under those regulations to require more than the minimum effort in order to ensure developments are not degrading our environment or quality of life.

By meeting only the minimum requirements, 50% of stormwater from the Royal Farms property is discharging without treatment into the adjacent wetlands and creek, which are sensitive and essential ecosystems within the Chester watershed. In addition, Chestertown is a member of Tree City USA, seeking to increase canopy coverage—yet there is now a conspicuous absence of tree cover along the rail-trail where the Royal Farms was constructed.

Meeting the absolute minimum stormwater treatment requirements is mandatory – we need to do better than the minimum. The Town has two upcoming opportunities to do so: the Chestertown Marina redevelopment and Washington College’s future waterfront campus. These are opportunities for Chestertown to define itself as environmentally progressive, not just through rhetoric but also through action. We urge the Town to hold these and future developments to a higher standard in our common effort to protect our natural resources and better serve Town citizens.

Isabel Hardesty
Chester Riverkeeper

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Letters to Editor

  1. Carla Massoni says:

    Isabel,
    What would the costs be to provide the best case scenario for protecting the Chester? What practices would need to be ensured? Is this the sort of thing that could be a private business, public interest, local government initiative? Tell us more about the choices, the costs, and the benefits. What an interesting project this could be for all of us.
    Thank you!
    Carla

    • Robyn Affron says:

      Why wasn’t this thought out before construction began. My thoughts were it must have been grandfathered in to be able to be built. I agree- it is bad for the environment to have a gas station so close to the creek. Cut down trees that were filtering run off, and loss of habitat for wildlife. It would appear Royal Farm has the mentality of Wal-Mart when it comes to their footprint.

  2. Alexa Fry says:

    Great article. Chestertown could have done a lot better too creating beautiful gateway businesses from all directions to build a town with character in addition to only meeting minimum standards for a repeat business.

  3. Jack Brosius says:

    While I agree that more should have been done as well as should be done for future development, it does no good to just say “Chestertown can do better” this is typical of comments made about issues which people are troubled(?) by in that while there is always some criticism there are no possible solutions presented. My question at this time did the River Keeper or anybody else come forward during the hearings on this development and submit proposals for helping to mitigate the negative environmental issues or was the town council and the Planning commission (who are not necessarily that well versed on environmental issues and solutions) expected to suddenly become experts in dealing with these issues. Complaining is easy, suggesting solutions may be a lot more difficult but in this situation, solutions, not complaints is what is needed.

  4. James Urda says:

    I couldn’t agree more with Isabel, but the good sense she expresses is, at least in the case of the awful Royal Farms monstrosity, something akin to locking the gate after the horse is out. One can only hope that whatever the upper limit of measurable run-off is will be diligently monitored by whomever has the responsibility – town, county, and/or state. Water run-off is important but so is the embarrassingly distasteful appearance of what our “friends” the Royal Farms Company have bequeathed on “the gateway to Chestertown”. It doesn’t make me happy for our town.

    Jim Urda

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