AG Gansler Secures Guilty Plea in Chesapeake Bay Critical Areas Case
Pasadena tree service violated waterfront buffer zone
Baltimore, MD (March 29, 2012) - Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler announced today that Branching Out Tree Service, Inc., of Pasadena, through its owner Steven J. Everd, Jr., has pled guilty to the unpermitted clearing of property within a Chesapeake Bay Critical Area buffer zone. The privately owned waterfront property is located along Merrimac Drive in Davidsonville. Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Judge William Mulford, II fined the defendant $10,000 to be paid to the Maryland Clean Water Fund, and issued a sentence of five years probation.
"The Critical Area buffer zone protects the Chesapeake Bay and this office will protect both whenever and wherever we find such violations," said Attorney General Gansler. "I want to thank the Riverkeepers and other environmentalists across Maryland whose monitoring and reporting are important tools in this process."
In May 2011, the South River Federation Riverkeeper noted during a patrol that workers at the Merrimac Drive property were cutting and clearing trees and shrubbery within the buffer zone in a manner that violated land management regulations. The Riverkeeper contacted Anne Arundel County investigators. Eventually, the Critical Area Commission was notified and the Office of the Attorney General Environmental Crimes Unit was called in to assist.
Investigators from the OAG Environmental Crimes Unit spoke with the homeowner, Harry Andress, and Dan Miller, the property caretaker, who advised that the defendant company was contracted to remove some limbs. According to both, the defendant advised that no permit was needed. Both said the work done far exceeded the pruning that was authorized.
Anne Arundel County Forester Jim Johnson indicated that the clearing and tree-topping done by the defendants was not in accordance with accepted horticultural practice and is likely fatal to the trees involved. The homeowners of the property have completed mitigation for the violations committed by the defendants, including new plants, at a cost of more than $14,000.
Upon making the announcement, Attorney General Gansler thanked Assistant Attorney General Michelle Barnes and David Williams, Chief Investigator of the Environmental Crimes Unit for their hard work. The Anne Arundel County Department of Inspections and the South River Federation Riverkeeper were also acknowledged for their assistance in the case.