KENT ISLAND — The results of a new survey released Oct. 29 show the majority of the Queen Anne’s County residents who were polled are opposed to the 1,079-unit Four Seasons development proposed for Kent Island.
Conducted by Public Opinion Strategies of Alexandria, Va., and commissioned by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) and Queen Anne’s Conservation Association (QACA), the public opinion poll was completed by 370 of the county’s 31,000 registered voters through telephone interviews from Oct. 7-10. Quotas were met for key demographics based on recent census and voter registration information to ensure the representativeness of the sample.
Of those polled, 61 percent of Kent Island residents are opposed to the Four Seasons project and 48 percent are strongly opposed. Twenty-six percent of Island residents are in support of the age-restricted community.
According to the poll, 52 percent of county residents who do not live on Kent Island are also opposed to the proposed development, while 34 percent are supportive.
There is not a single geographic, demographic or political sub-group among which there is majority support for the proposed development, according to the poll.
“The public has spoken,” said Alison Prost, Maryland director of CBF. “They are clearly opposed to this project. It is the wrong project in the wrong place.”
Of those polled, 78 percent thought the project would not benefit them or their family and 53 percent said the development would not benefit the county.
“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.”
Those polled also expressed concerns about the project’s location in an environmentally sensitive area.
“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.”
Eighty-three percent of those polled said the governor and state officials should take their time in reviewing the proposed development closely.
K. Hovanian’s Four Seasons at Kent Island Vice President Patrick McNeally said plenty of time has already been taken.
The Four Seasons project has already gone through the process for 14 years now, McNeally said. It has already been approved by the proper boards and commissions. There is no need to take more time, he added.
Furthermore, “the premise that this project is in the wrong place defies logic,” McNeally said. “Four Seasons is located in the 6 percent of all land designated in the county’s Comprehensive Plan as a Priority FUnding Area consistent with the State of Maryland’s Smart Growth Initiative. Four Seasons is located exactly where the county has specified growth to be.”
McNeally said, from his perspective, the intent of the poll was to have the results skewed.
“This poll was commissioned by the two primary groups opposed of the project, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Queen Anne’s Conservation Association,” McNeally said. “This poll is an obvious effort to try to sway the opinion of Board of Public Works and (the) governor. We sure hope a push poll doesn’t trump 14 years of meeting the rules and regulations set before us and receiving every one of our approvals from Queen Anne’s County and every state agency — including the Maryland Department of the Environment, Critical Area Commission and Wetlands Administrator.”
Over 70 percent of those polled said they were concerned there could be hidden costs for county taxpayers in upgrading and maintaining roads, emergency services and the infrastructure needed for 1,079 new homes. They said they were also concerned the development could contribute to polluted runoff into the Bay, increase traffic congestion in the county, building next to environmentally sensitive wetlands, is too large for the area, wildlife could be taken away and could be prone to flooding.
At least 50 percent said they were “extremely/very concerned” over the same issues.
All information about the Four Seasons development within the poll was drawn from recent newspaper coverage in order to provide a neutral context for all respondents, organizers said.
Public Opinion Strategies conducts the NBC-Wall Street Journal polls and is the largest Republican polling firm in the country.
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