Letter: Why object to a public comment period?
In a rare move during its March 6 meeting, the Mathews County Wetlands Board voted to open a second public comment period on two Mathews County Land Conservancy projects at Williams Wharf. One of the projects is a proposed two-story, 19,224 square-foot "Rowing Center and Sailing Club" with a total of 7,183 square feet of impervious surface positioned over the tidal wetlands.
The "Rowing Center and Sailing Club" is huge. The name implies it’s a dedicated facility for rowing and sailing programs; it’s much more than that. This multi-use, non-water-dependent facility would be available to rent for any private non-aquatic event, and it would compete with other county facilities operated by charitable organizations such as the American Legion and the Piankatank Ruritan Club.
Can you imagine a private homeowner seeking permission to construct even a 2,000 square-foot structure over 700 square feet of tidal wetlands in which to throw parties?
After the board vote to open a second public comment period, an objection was made.
Why object to another public comment period? The opportunity for concerned citizens to provide comments—both pro and con—to wetlands board members before they decide on an application with such a profound impact on Williams Wharf, our tidal wetlands, and affected residents should cause no objection. The transparency that comes from dialogue is something a not-for-profit organization that has received millions of dollars in state and private foundation grants should welcome.
The dedication and sincerity of the wetlands board members in making decisions based on the Code of Mathews is impressive. The board is doing the right thing by allowing another chance for open and candid public discussion on the merits (or lack thereof) of the two Williams Wharf projects before it votes.
Stephen E. Wilson