Council Members Weigh In on Bay Bridge

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Chestertown Councilmen Marty Stetson and Ellsworth Tolliver

At the Chestertown Council, meeting Feb. 5, several council members commented on the possibility of a new Bay Bridge coming through Kent County.  Councilman Marty Stetson said he had attended a meeting at the Chestertown Firehouse at which members of the Kent Conservation and Preservation Alliance presented information on the project and encouraged residents to oppose it.

Observing that the meeting was “packed,” Stetson noted that nobody in the audience had expressed support for a Kent County bridge. He said the meeting organizers had suggested three ways for residents to express their opposition to the project – writing to the Maryland Transit Authority, putting up a yard sign, and telling friends and neighbors about it – and that he had done all three. He said that during his time as a Maryland State Police trooper, he had seen an increase in crime on Kent Island, which he attributed to the bridge.

Councilman Ellsworth Tolliver said he had attended a Super Bowl party at Bethel AME Church, where several attendees had asked him about the possibility of a bridge. “People see growth and economic development as a plus,” Tolliver said. “A lot of people seem to support it in Ward 3,” he said. “Some see it as the future of Kent County.” Tolliver, who was also present at the firehouse meeting, said he hadn’t made up his mind about the bridge.

Councilman David Foster said that residents curious about the bridge project who were unable to attend the firehouse meeting would have a chance to see Elizabeth Watson, who was one of the presenters at that meeting, at an upcoming meeting of the Community Breakfast Group, which meets Thursday mornings at the Holiday Inn in Chestertown. Foster said he had moved to Chestertown to escape urban congestion. “But I think people need to weigh the pros and cons and not just dismiss it,” he said. He said opponents of a bridge need to find ways of providing other economic opportunities for the community.

Also at the meeting, the council approved a letter of support for the LaMotte Company’s application for Enterprise Zone benefits in connection with a new building the chemical company is undertaking. The 9,000 square foot building would be for the production of a new water testing product. Kay MacIntosh, the town’s economic development coordinator, said the company expected to hire at least 15 new employees to work on the new product. She explained the Enterprise Zone benefits, which include a 10-year tax credit for new construction and a $1,000 hiring credit for each new employee, a figure that rises to $6,000 if the employee is from an economically disadvantaged group.

Kay MacIntosh (left) and Jamie Williams explain benefits of the Enterprise Zone at the Chestertown Council meeting, Feb. 5

Jamie Wiliams, economic development coordinator for Kent County, said that LaMotte has already added 35 new employees as a result of the new product.

The council unanimously approved the letter of support, which Mayor Chris Cerino read into the record.

At the end of the meeting, Jeffrey Carroll of the Fish Whistle restaurant told the council about a fishing tournament he is planning for this summer, with substantial cash prizes to the winners. He said he hoped to have 100 boats taking part. He asked what permits he would need to get from the town to put on the tournament, which would have its headquarters at the restaurant and adjacent town-owned marina.

“How much money will I win with my 15-pound rockfish?” asked Mayor Chris Cerino. Carroll said he hoped the top prize would be $10,000, assuming there were enough entries. He said he was talking to an underwriter about the possibility of an even larger prize if any of the participants catches a state record fish. The contest would be open only to rockfish and catfish, and prizes would be awarded on the basis of weight.

Cerino said Carroll should meet with Town Manager Bill Ingersoll to work out details. Ingersoll and Town Clerk Jen Mulligan were absent from the meeting on account of illness. Discussion of several items of business, including the possible sale of a town-owned property on Calvert Street, was postponed until the next meeting to allow Ingersoll to provide detailed information.

The next Mayor and Council meeting will be held Tuesday, Feb. 20, because the Presidents Day holiday falls on Monday.

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Letters to Editor

  1. Benjamin Ford says:

    “Foster said he had moved to Chestertown to escape urban congestion. “But I think people need to weigh the pros and cons and not just dismiss it,” he said. He said opponents of a bridge need to find ways of providing other economic opportunities for the community.”

    It’s not the responsibility of people who are against a Wal-Mart to come up with alternatives for people looking to buy cheap paper towels. It’s not the responsibility of people who are against a rubble dump in Kent County to come up with an alternative location.

    With all due respect to Mr. Foster, it is not the responsibility of people who don’t feel like a four lane highway is the best use of land in Kent County to suggest alternatives for economic development.

  2. Janet Christensen-Lewis says:

    House Bill 1199
    Delegate Jacobs, Arentz, Ghrist, and Otto have filed HB1199 which prohibits a Northern Bay Crossing to Kent County. The bill was assigned to Environment and Transportation. Hearing is scheduled on March 8th. Bill’s Language can be found at:
    http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmMain.aspx?id=HB1199&stab=01&pid=billpage&tab=subject3&ys=2018RS

  3. Marty Stetson says:

    I like to answer the person who said you can not be against everything that comes along, you have to be for something. I am, I am in favor of the great place we live in at the present time and only against those things that will spoil it. I guess I could put a sign in my yard that says ” I love Kent County just the way you are “. I would do so if it would keep out the tall wind mills, large solar fields and now the Bay Bridge crossing to Kent County. I know we have to have some growth in order to survive but lets make it controlled, reasonable growth not an explosion of gas stations, convenience stores, housing developments where every house looks the same. Bringing people who work on the western shore, go to tax free Delaware to shop and put their kids in our schools is not the answer. For those who do not know it, residential taxes can not pay government to operate without a great tax increase. For those people who are waiting to see which way the wind blows, make up your mind as it blows ill for Kent County.

    • Marty, you doth protest all the time. As you were a former Police Chief and police officer you have seen change and much of good. “Can’t County “has become that place where nothing that doesn’t promote tourism or the business that are already here will benefit. I have the pleasure and honor to reside here but I don’t have to rely on making a living here, Thank God!

      The NIMBY attitude is selfish and self righteous and you as a representative of our community is wrong headed, your stance is about today and not tomorrow. There is not a economic outreach to keep our graduates of Kent County High or Washington College here in Kent County, they come, go to school and leave only to return during Washington College’s Alumni weekend or Tea Party. Open your eyes Sir, to commerce, to computer technology and to a bridge that can be the catalyst to economic growth. Don’t dictate your whims on the rest of us, your are thinking is in the past and the past hasn’t been kind to the workers of KC who don’t own their own business or farms, that is patently unfair and selfish!

      • Marty Stetson says:

        Ron,

        It is not just my view but of the majority of the people I represent. I do not know where you live but feel free to move to the fourth ward of Chestertown and run for office. I would be more than happy to debate you on the subject. Once the Kent Bay Bridge happens there is no turning back, it is not as if the area can be returned to what we now have. There are other ways to grow, maybe not as quickly as you would like but in a way that keeps Kent County from the problems it would have if becomes a bed room community for people fleeing the city or traveling through on the way to the ocean. To answer you assertion, that my view is selfish because it is about today, could not be more wrong. I am of the age that if Kent County is the site for the crossing there is a good chance I would not live long enough to see the bridge built, my concern is for the way of life we all enjoy.

  4. Briggs Cunningham says:

    Greetings from Ireland!
    Why not add on to the current spans in a creative, technologically-advanced way? For instance, construct an addition that is dedicated for high-speed light rail with stations in Annapolis, DC, Baltimore, Queenstown, Cambridge, Salisbury, and Ocean City? Let’s get over cars and move into the future.
    Cheers!

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