Letter To The Editor: Senator Reilly’s Senate Bill 93 Sets The Precedent To Reduce Public Access To Maryland Waterways

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Maynadier Creek off the south side of the Severn River, known by locals as “Cocktail Creek,” has one of three Maryland public ski courses where boaters often anchor to watch the skiers. From the 1950s until present day, sailboats, powerboaters, skiers, kayakers and paddleboarders have peacefully coexisted. The course has been in Maynadier Creek since the 1950s and regulated by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Boat Act Advisory Committee (BAAC) since 1960. More restrictive times of use were put in place from 1990 to 2016. In 2016, the BAAC decided to realign the hours of the three courses as Maynaider Creek had more restrictive hours due to erroneous issues of erosion and noise that were disproved by the Horn Point Environmental Laboratory Center back in 1992.

In October 2016, the BAAC conducted a hearing regarding the realignment of the hours and nine homeowners from Maynadier Creek testified. Their claims of the ski boats causing 3-foot wakes, erosion, and denying other boaters’ access to the creek were dismissed by the BAAC. The BAAC is made up of experienced boaters from across the boating spectrum with intimate knowledge of all the activities that take place on Maryland waterways. Members include ex-Navy, Marine surveyors, watermen, boat and tug captains, United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, waterfront property owners, kayakers, paddleboarders, yacht club members, etc.

In 2017, two waterfront homeowners in Maynadier Creek were not happy with the BAAC and DNRs decision to stand by the COMAR regulations. So, they looked for a legislator to propose a bill that would circumvent the COMAR regulations. Senator Ed Reilly proposed such a bill, but it failed. In 2018, Senator Reilly again proposed a bill, and this time he withdrew his own bill. So why in 2019 would Senator Reilly again propose such a bill? The two homeowners made heavy contributions to Senator Reilly and other influential politicians and then hired Democratic and Republican lobbyists to push the bill through the Maryland political machine. It was not easy as there were legislators against it; Delegate Rick Impallaria wrote a letter on April 8, 2019 to the General Assembly exposing some of the “pay to play” tactics. Delegate Brian Chisolm was also an outspoken critic of the bill. Both Delegates Impallaria and Chisolm demonstrated unwavering courage and integrity. Now, the only person who can sink this bill is Governor Larry Hogan.

This is a shot across the bow of public access to Maryland waterways. If the bill makes it across the governor’s desk, there will be a precedent for waterfront homeowners who don’t want crabbers, fishermen, jet skiers — you name the activity — in front of their house to circumvent DNR and BAAC regulations to suit themselves.

Boaters, watermen and everyone who seeks access to Maryland public waterways need to pay attention to what is going on in Annapolis as money now trumps Maryland voters’ right to public waterway use in Maryland.

Captain Christopher S. Yearwood
Severna Park

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