AG Gansler Secures Guilty Plea in First-Ever State Critical Area Case
Anne Arundel County landowner ordered to pay the maximum fine
MD ( Nov. 18, 2011) - Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler today announced the State's first-ever criminal conviction for violations of the Maryland Critical Area laws. Anne Arundel County landowner William E. Clark of Severna Park pled guilty to three counts of violating the State's Critical Area law and related charges. Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Judge William C. Mulford II agreed with the state's position and levied a fine of $11,500, the maximum fine possible.
"This case demonstrates our serious devotion to defending the vital buffer that protects and improves the health of the Chesapeake Bay," said Attorney General Gansler. "We can restore the Bay and grow our state's oyster, crab and striped bass population if we remain vigilant in defense of the Bay's critical areas which provide the habitats to nurture a healthier ecosystem."
Clark pled guilty to clearing trees within the Critical Area buffer without a permit, clearing trees without a sediment control permit and malicious destruction of property belonging to the Olde Severna Park Improvement Association, Inc. The property sits on Sullivan Cove in the Severn River.
The investigation revealed that on May 11, 2010, Clark hired a tree service to clear trees from around his home on property that abuts a community property beach area. The community property included tree-covered areas within the buffer and expanded buffer zones of a designated critical area of the Chesapeake Bay.
Once the tree service was on-site, Clark instructed the employee to cut down multiple trees located on community association property, including a 20' cherry tree. Clark had neither the permits nor the permission of the community association to remove trees and vegetation from community property. In addition to being located within a critical area buffer zone, the property in question had also been classified as a Magnolia Bog by the State of Maryland.
In making the announcement, Attorney General Gansler wished to thank Michelle Barnes, Chief of the Attorney General's Environmental Crimes Unit and David Williams, Environmental Crimes Unit Investigator for their work in this case. The case was referred by Maryland's Critical Area Commission for the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays.
For more information about the Attorney General's Environmental Crimes Unit visit: http://www.oag.state.md.us/ECU/index.htm
For more information about Maryland's Critical Areas program and Critical Area Commission visit: http://www.dnr.state.md.us/criticalarea/
A Citizen's Guide to Maryland's Critical Area Program: http://www.dnr.state.md.us/criticalarea/BaySmartGuide.asp
For an Overview of 2008 Critical Areas Legislation visit: http://www.dnr.state.md.us/criticalarea/pdfs/052008overviewofhousebill1253.pdf