The development of
remaining sensitive shoreline
areas throughout Maryland
could be accelerated.
In Critical Condition
Lisa Egeli paints on a pier. She observes and
slowly merges with the first blush of light on
the sweet gums and maples, the still water
reflecting the trees and brightening sky, the
morning song of a red-winged blackbird.
Then, she dabs paint to canvas. And repeats.
Over and over well into winter.
Lisa is in a long-term relationship with Deep
Cove Creek. She has learned its many moods.
She favors the soft light of dawn and dusk when
the creek is most serene. But even at midday
the quiet is broken only by an eagle or heron
taking flight, the occasional plane descending
toward BWI, or the splash of a kayaker’s paddle. The shallow upstream reaches of the creek
are never visited by powerboats.
Deep Cove is in Anne Arundel County, one of
Maryland’s most populous areas. But unlike
nearly every other waterbody in the county,
Deep Cove in Churchton remains largely
unspoiled. A few houses were built on the
shore years ago. But in the dense forest across
from the pier where Lisa paints barred owls
still can be heard caterwauling in the deep of
night in fall. And in the thick swaying mats of
pondweed and widgeon grass under the water,
shedding crabs and larval fish find protection.
But all this is about to change, unless we
act. The same forces that have forever altered
other county creeks is about to claim Deep
All this despite environmental regulations that
clearly say large development should never go
here. Maryland’s Critical Area Law says no
more than one house can be built in a 37-acre
forested parcel across from Lisa’s pier. The
forest is classified as a highly sensitive ecological area that should not be disturbed in any
Yet somehow, Anne Arundel County officials have given preliminary approval for the
construction of 11 houses on the tract. Now
home to owls and eagles, this part of the forest
will become a subdivision called Turtle Run.
The green light for the project is yet another
in a long history of decisions by Anne
Arundel to puncture holes in the Critical
Area Law. The law was enacted in 1984
to protect sensitive shoreline areas. But
like a leaky boat, the law is slowly sinking,
And should this development get final
approval, builders around the state could
exploit the legal precedent created by Anne
Arundel’s decision. The development of
remaining sensitive shoreline areas throughout Maryland could be accelerated.
The State of Maryland, and the special
commission that is supposed to ensure
the Critical Area Law is faithfully applied
in development cases, have become more
yielding to developers in recent years.
So protecting Deep Cove Creek and other
special areas is being left to people such
as Lisa Egeli. She is one of several local
residents who have joined CBF and other
local environmental groups in legal action
to forestall Turtle Run.
“Monet had his gardens. Thomas Moran
had his ‘American West.’ I have Deep Cove
Creek,” Lisa declares.
U Maryland’s legislative session is starting in
January. Learn about CBF’s priorities here: