Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – December 16, 2016

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – December 16, 2016

The concept of a 434-site campground being developed outside of Berlin should raise concerns among residents and businesses. Chief among them has to be traffic volume, which without question will increase during camping season if this project comes to fruition.

I can picture the hypothetical now. A travel trailer, driven by a motorist unfamiliar with the area, comes through Main Street trying to make the awkward turn onto Broad Street, resulting in the curb being crossed, potential accidents, backups, pedestrian safety issues and the like. An even more troubling scenario has a large trailer heading to West Street in between Main and Broad streets trying to navigate toward the former Bay Club property.

Without question, the addition of 400-plus campsites two miles from the town’s historic district will have significant consequences. The positive would be the expected increase in business for retail district as well as the restaurants and convenience and grocery stores. The negative would have to be the traffic associated with this sort of major development.

At one point, during a previous discussion about The Bay Club being redeveloped there was talk about property being acquired to provide access from Route 50 to Route 374, or Libertytown Road.

The good news is during this week’s presentation before the Berlin Town Council attorney Hugh Cropper, representing property owner Freeman Companies, said, “Traffic is a major concern for my client.”

The project is early on in the permitting process, but my hope is the uptick in traffic volume remains the “major concern” that it should be. Berlin already has some traffic issues and adding dozens (or more) of trailers on its tight streets will be a huge problem if alternative plans are not considered.

The letter from a group of Congressmen, including Maryland’s Andy Harris, from the mid-Atlantic to NOAA last week should carry a lot of weight. It raised financial concerns that are critical and should be weighed heavily.

The letter, addressed to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Administrator Dr. Kathryn D. Sullivan, contained a number of key points, but this was the most critical to me because it talks about the financial feasibility of the Baltimore Canyon securing the nation’s first Urban Marine Sanctuary designation.

“It is irresponsible and possibly unlawful for the National Marine Fisheries Service to look into expanding sanctuaries when they are unable to fulfill their current statutory requirement,” the letter reads. “Any expansion of the national marine sanctuary system will inevitably lead to additional financial stresses upon the entire system.”

The letter then goes to address the most important issue to people around these parts.

“National Marine Sanctuaries do not contain any legal protections for the fishermen who have been fishing the waters surrounding sanctuaries for decades,” the letter reads. “The sanctuary management plan supersedes any existing regulations. Further, the National Marine Sanctuaries Act does not contain any provisions that sanctuaries must use science-based management. This would allow the sanctuary managers to prohibit fishing in sanctuaries without ever having to scientifically justify the fishing ban.”

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.