Statement of Amelia Tree Conservancy Concerning The Riverstone Property, April 14, 2023
We oppose the new settlement proposal, as we did the nearly identical settlement proposal put forth last year. Our view is similar to the hundreds of citizens who attended the Commission meeting last spring to speak out unanimously against a permanent scar on our island.
Eleven concrete towers, each more than 85 feet above the existing grade, and stretching for approximately three quarters of a mile, would change the nature of our island for generations to come.
The proposed settlement, as we understand it, would permit Riverstone or its successors to essentially clear cut the entire property except for 200 feet on the southern boundary, 100 feet along the highway and 25 feet on the northern boundary. This would destroy much of the only remaining maritime forest on our island.
Furthermore, and unlike other property on our island, the Riverstone property would never be subject to any future regulations concerning tree protection or replacement standards.
Also, under the proposed agreement the County would agree that none of its officers, employees, or agents would in any way obstruct the efforts of Riverstone to develop the property, including all approvals and permits. The County’s processes for permits, inspections and approvals of all new construction are in place for very good reasons. We are aware of no reason why Riverstone or its successors should not be subject to the same inspections and approvals as any other property owner.
Although height restrictions are normally measured from the existing natural grade, Riverstone would be permitted to build 85 feet above the finished grade. After removal of all trees and vegetation, Riverstone would be allowed to raise the elevation of the land many feet above the existing grade before adding 85 feet of concrete structure.
Alternatively, and within current zoning, the parcel could be developed with approximately 50 large, single-family homes similar to those along the beach and across the highway at Long Point. This would be in keeping with other established developments and done to protect the existing trees, vegetation and beauty of our island. Importantly, it has been demonstrated repeatedly that the value of the land for large, single-family homes is equivalent to that if used for high-rise towers. We would welcome development proposals, within the current zoning regulations, that would retain the natural beauty of our island.
We strongly support the actions of our County Commissioners taken in the summer of 2021, to limit the construction of new towers on our island. We understand that their actions were carefully considered and properly taken at the time. Independent and knowledgeable counsel agree with that understanding. We stand with all those in our community who defend the Commission’s actions from the persistent assault of a single developer.
Board of Directors of Amelia Tree Conservancy: Berta Arias, Wende Burdick, Diana Herman, Kristen Huben, Arthur Herman, Russ Jahn, Tracy Johnson, Lyn Pannone, Rebecca Raymond, Cheryl Witt