Today, a Harford County Circuit Court judge granted Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s (CBF) request for an injunction to stop Abingdon Woods tree clearing for a proposed warehouse project while CBF pursues its lawsuit against the project for potentially violating the state’s Forest Conservation Act.
The decision came after the company pursuing the warehouse project—Harford Investors LLP and BTC III 1-95 Logistics Center LLC—reached an agreement with CBF not to challenge the injunction request. As a result, the company will not be permitted to cut down any more trees until a decision is reached in the Forest Conservation Act case proceeding in Harford County Circuit Court. CBF does not expect a decision in that case for at least a couple months.
CBF maintains the warehouse project’s Forest Conservation Plan doesn’t meet the requirements of state or county law to preserve contiguous forest and large specimen trees. The company intends to clear about 219 acres of the 300-acre contiguous forest on the property and remove 49 specimen trees, very large trees that have special protections under Maryland law. Parts of the property have already been cleared of trees, but significant amounts of forested land remain and could be protected should CBF prevail on the merits.
The law requires planning departments in the state to make “reasonable efforts” to protect contiguous forest and if such forest must be cleared, the company proposing the clearing must demonstrate it has exhausted all methods of retaining the trees. In this case, the company has not done so, despite Harford County approving the project’s Forest Conservation Plan.
CBF is pursuing this case to protect one of the largest stands of forested land in Harford County, Maryland.
Josh Kurtz, CBF’s Maryland Executive Director, issued the following statement:
“You can’t protect trees that have already been cut down. This injunction ensures Abingdon Woods will still have trees as we work to obtain a court ruling on whether the proposed warehouse project’s development plans met the requirements of state law. Forested land is essential to the fight against climate change and the effort to restore Chesapeake Bay. The mature trees in forests sequester significant amounts of carbon while filtering air and water. It takes decades for newly planted trees to provide the same environmental benefits. We will continue to pursue all avenues to protect our forests and take actions against those that attempt to evade existing forest protections.”