Community Continues To Express Concern Over Abingdon Woods Development
HARFORD COUNTY - Barring a reprieve from courts, Abingdon woods is about to become Abingdon warehouse.
The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and Harford County have granted a series of permits for constructing a two-million-square-foot industrial warehouse complex on the site.
The upcoming development will be called Abingdon Business Park and is set to replace one of the most prominent patches of forest left in this heavily developed part of Harford County. The proposed location, bordering I-95, has already been zoned as a commercial area. Harford County went as far as to include Abingdon woods in an "enterprise zone" to encourage economic activity there.
Abingdon Woods feeds into Otter Point Creek and the tidal Bush River and stands as the last significant, intact stretch of forest buffer in the Bush River watershed. In 2013, MDE conducted a study of water quality in the Bush River. The study found that its health, based on the richness of species and biodiversity, was poor and that the watershed was impacted by "urban stream syndrome," where high percentages of impervious surfaces lead to polluted stormwater runoff, negatively impacting water quality.
The Chesapeake Legal Alliance (CLA) has spearheaded efforts to block the project, representing the Gunpowder Riverkeepers. CLA has filed suit multiple times, arguing that the county has not followed proper procedure in requesting public comment on the permits.
"CLA filed, argued, and won a motion in Harford County circuit court, resulting in the Court remanding the permit back to MDE and requiring an additional public comment period."
Despite their victory in extending the time required for public comment, the permits were eventually granted, and the developers plan to move forward with construction.
The surrounding community has voiced their displeasure about the project in various blog posts, community forums, and a petition which now has over 16,000 signatures.
Additionally, residents are concerned for students who attend Old Post Elementary School, which borders Abingdon woods. In a Facebook post calling for the project's cancellation, the organization Save Abingdon Woods said that students would have to deal with "truck traffic and diesel fumes" if the project continued.