Criminal charges filed over shoreline tree removal
A Severna Park man has been charged with illegally removing trees on his and community association property, in what Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler's office says is the first criminal prosecution for alleged violations of the state law regulating shoreline development.
William E. Clark, 73, was charged in Anne Arundel Circuit Court with six violations of state Critical Area regulations, including construction without a sediment control plan, clearing trees within a buffer, clearing trees without a permit, malicious destruction of the property of the Olde Severna Park Improvement Association, Inc., and theft of property of the Olde Severna Park Improvement Association, Inc.
The charges, all misdemeanors, result from alleged tree clearing that occurred on his and neighboring association property in Sullivan Cove on the Severn River, according to a release from Gansler's office.
Maryland lawmakers adopted the Critical Area law in 1984 intending to protect the Chesapeake Bay from further degradation by limiting waterfront development. The law regulates construction within 1,000 feet of the bay and its tributaries and severely restricts clearing of vegetation within a narrow "buffer" of land nearest the water.
The state has filed several civil suits againts landowners deemed in violation of the law and its regulations, but this represents the first criminal prosecution, according to Gansler's office.
Update: Read the full story here.