It looks like the end of the road for the Cross-County Connector.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has denied the Charles County Board of Commissioner's permit application to disturb wetlands in order to build a four-lane county highway to connect Routes 301 and 210. The road would have added pollution from impervious surfaces to Mattawoman Creek, one of Maryland's last pristine nurseries for fish such as yellow perch.
In a letter to the director of the county's department of planning, Col. David E. Anderson said the road would have "direct and permanent adverse impacts" on more than seven acres of nontidal wetlands. Anderson said the county failed to address issues that would have mitigated these problems, despite numerous requests.
The letter marks a rare denial for the Corps, which usually approves projects after some modifications. But it was not unexpected. Numerous state and federal agencies charged with protecting the environment have voiced concern about the road, among them the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Maryland Department of Planning.
Local environmental groups and many citizens have opposed the road since it was first introduced in the early 1990s as access for residents of Chapman's Landing, a proposed 4,600-home development on 2,100 acres near the creek's headwaters. Chapman's Landing was purchased by the state in one of Maryland's most expensive open-space acquisitions and became Chapman's Forest. But the road stayed on the books, and the fight to stop it picked up steam through numerous election cycles.
In November, the Maryland Department of the Environment denied Charles County's application for a permit - a rare step, as the agency usually approves more than 99 percent of permit applications. To build the road, Charles County needed both a federal and a state wetland permit. The county now has neither.
The county can appeal the Corps' decision or resubmit an application at a later date, but it's unlikely it will resurrect the road project. It needs hundreds of thousands of dollars to complete the required studies, and the current county council has shown little appetite for spending that money in the face of uncertainty about the road.