No doubt left; Local residents oppose Four Seasons development

(KENT ISLAND, MD)—A majority of voters in Kent Island and Queen Anne's County are opposed to the 1079-unit Four Seasons development project proposed for Kent Island. On the island, opponents outnumber supporters by more than 2-1, according to a public opinion poll by Public Opinion Strategies commissioned by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) and Queen Anne's Conservation Association (QACA). Half again as many people county-wide oppose the project.

Better than four-in-five voters also said Governor O'Malley and state officials should take their time closely reviewing the project, and the vast majority said Four Seasons should not be built at all, or should be modified.

"There can be no doubt now how the public feels about this massive project. It is one of the largest development projects ever proposed in Maryland within an ecologically sensitive waterfront area. Will someone listen to the will of the people? The state Board of Public Works must deny the project's pending wetlands permit, and county commissioners must take Four Seasons back to the drawing board," said Alison Prost, Maryland Director of CBF.

Released today, the poll shows 61 percent of Kent Island voters opposed to the Four Seasons project, 48 percent strongly opposed. Only 26 percent support the development.

In Queen Anne's County, 52 percent of voters are opposed, while only 34 are supportive.

"It is no surprise that Queen Anne's County residents, and Kent Islanders in particular, remain strongly opposed to the Four Seasons development," said Jay Falstad, Executive Director, Queen Anne's Conservation Association. "The people have always hated this project, and we've been fighting it for over a decade. Previous county commissioners were voted out of office for supporting Four Seasons. Someday, the voice of the people will be heard. The largest major subdivision in Maryland Critical Area history can't be good for the Chesapeake Bay or the Chester River. The Board of Public Works denied this license once before over concerns related to public safety and the environment, and those concerns are even more present today."

Public Opinion Strategies conducted the telephone survey October 7-10 of 300 voters throughout Queen Anne's County on both landline and cell phones. Additional interviews were conducted on Kent Island to reach a total of 200 voters on the island. The overall margin of error was 5.66 percent for the total sample. Language that introduced the Four Seasons project was drawn from recent newspaper coverage in order to provide a neutral context for all respondents. Public Opinion Strategies is a widely respected polling firm which conducts the NBC Wall Street Journal poll, and is the largest Republican polling firm in the country.

Some findings of the poll include:

  • Voters overwhelmingly want Governor O'Malley and state officials to closely and carefully examine the project, with 83 percent in favor of a go-slow approach and 16 opposed to that approach.
  • 80 percent of Kent voters said the project should either not be built at all, or should be modified(49 percent don't build at all, and 31 percent modify) while county-wide 72 percent said it should not be built or should be modified (37 percent do not build, 35 percent modify). Kent Island voters perceive Queen Anne's County as growing too quickly—47 percent compared to 38 percent who find the pace of development "about right."
  • Residents say concerns about the project are so grave they trump any potential economic benefits.Three-in-five county residents (59 percent) and 65 percent of Kent Island residents agree with a statement that "Even though the proposed development could create thousands of construction and related jobs and help some local businesses, the negative impact to water, traffic, and our way of life is too great for me to support it."
  • Voters across the political spectrum oppose the development: 53 percent of Republicans, 50 percent of Democrats and 51 percent of Independents.

"A development of this size and density should not be placed directly on the banks of the Chester River, period," said Isabel Junkin, Chester Riverkeeper. "We need to rethink how we develop our river edges; in the long run, healthy buffers and vibrant waterways will be more valuable to our local economies and to our lifestyles than dense waterfront development. A clean Chester River and a healthy Chesapeake Bay are invaluable resources."

CBF also is conducting an online petition for citizens to voice their objections to the "wrong development in the wrong place.

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