Ecology and Economy: Kent Island

Today we met with Jay Falstad, the executive director of Queen Anne’s Conservation Association.  QACA is the oldest conservation organization in the Eastern Shore and was formed by a group of residents in 1971.  We focused on discussing one of their main current concerns, planned development on Kent Island.  As the entrance to the Bay Bridge, this island has been targeted for major development of individual lots and high-rise apartment buildings.   This development would take away a large percentage of the farmland and empty space throughout the area.  Beyond the extreme environmental degradation due to the direct impacts of building, we also considered the affects of roads, traffic, school and hospital additions and waterfront erosion.

IMG_5260Many high-rise apartments are going to be built along the water since environmental regulation requires a tree line between the buildings and the shoreline.  These apartments, and much of the planned buildings on the island, are within a dangerous area when considering sea level rise, erosion, subduction and storm surge levels.  This building therefore is dangerous for both the people and overall environment throughout the island.

While developers and some politicians argue the buildings will boost the economy, this is not fully true.  It has been statistically proven that these new citizens will cost more to the island than they will pay in taxes.  With the school systems already overflowing, additions will have to be made to each of the schools.  The emergency room and overall hospital will need to expand to handle the influx of people.  High levels of traffic will also cost millions in repaving and creating new roads.  This idea of developing costing more than preserving has lead to the increase in conservation agencies holding the developing rights of properties.  Hopefully politicians will be able to further explore this concept throughout the country in order to save important land from development.

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