Real Estate Disclosure Bill Will Help Navy, Address Growth

Bill seeks to shield military from complaints by homeowners who are impacted by loud noise from military sites in Maryland

By Maryland Senator Roy Dyson

I was driving back from my 48-hour visit to Ocean City where I was attending the Annual Maryland State Firemen’s Association’s Annual Convention last week where one of our own - Bobby Balta of St. Inigoes - was voted in as President of the Association for 2006-2007. Another one of our own, Bobbie McWilliams, who is retiring as President of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Maryland State Firemen’s Association, was also honored.

Delegate John L. Bohanan, Jr., Commissioners Thomas Mattingly and Daniel Raley and I were all there presenting them with well-deserved congratulatory resolutions and citations.

As I stopped to get gas for my trip back home, I picked up the Daily Times of Salisbury, MD and was struck by the six-column headline that screamed out “Clean Sweep in Crisfield.” The stories lead began “City residents on Wednesday overwhelmingly voted out of office the incumbent mayor and two City Council members, electing in their place Crisfield’s “Clean Sweep Team.” The mayor wasn’t just an incumbent and he didn’t lose a close election. He was a four-term incumbent who shockingly lost, 640-171.

The residents of Crisfield obviously came out in force to protest growth in this once formerly sleepy old town made up of longtime residents, many of them watermen who feel they are being priced out of their community by high-dollar condominiums such as “Captain’s Quarters located in Somers Cove Marina. The highest asking price? For a three bedroom, three bath, 1,555 square feet unit newcomers - not residents of - have to shell out $439,900. This is a problem I hear throughout the state.

Ironically, I got the information about Captain’s Quarters’ condominium not from the Eastern Shore, but from a major advertising supplement that appeals to Northeast, MD and other surrounding states.

We are lucky in Southern Maryland to have Patuxent River Naval Air Station, a nearly $3 billion economic engine for our region in particular and the state as a whole.

One issue that is of concern to many is that out-of-control growth in Southern Maryland will encroach near the base forcing the Pentagon to look at whether they should continue full operations, as we know them at Pax River. We need to protect Pax River as it is in order for our thriving economy to survive in Southern Maryland.

For the past two years, I introduced legislation that was requested by officials from Pax River. This legislation, which passed into law without the governor’s signature, helps address the issue of encroachment around the base.

Delegate Bohanan and I both sponsored the same bill this year so it would get a full hearing in both the House and Senate. Captain Zachary “Bo” Henry, commanding officer at Pax River, came all the way to Annapolis to testify on behalf of both bills. He did an outstanding job and helped convince delegates who voted against the bill in the 2005 General Assembly to do so this past Session.

Senate Bill 253 and House Bill 298 requires a contract for the sale of residential real property to contain a specified statement notifying the buyer that the property may be located near a military installation that conducts specified military operations or testing.

The reason I was approached by the officials at Pax was because they were receiving complaints from mainly new residents on the Eastern Shore about noise coming from Pax River, which conducts test missions over the Chesapeake Bay and onto the Eastern Shore. Until this legislation passed, the new residents of the Eastern Shore did not have this provision in their real estate contract. Now, they will know that if they move into these new condos or homes, they will be subject to “the sound of freedom.”

This bill does not just affect Pax River. It impacts every military installation in the State of Maryland so if one is moving into Maryland from another state, this gives them the opportunity to be aware that we have 15 military installations in Maryland which generate a lot of noise and impact on the community.

According to the 2005 Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission’s Final Report, these installations include: Fort Meade, Naval Station Annapolis, Army Research Laboratory Adelphi, Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head, Andrews Air Force Base, Naval Air Facility Washington, Martin State Airport Air Guard Station, Fort Detrick, Navy Reserve Center Adelphi, National Naval Medical Center Bethesda, Naval Surface Weapons Station Carderock, Aberdeen Proving Ground,, Defense Finance and Accounting Service Patuxent River, Patuxent River Naval Air Station and PFC Flair U.S. Army Reserve Center Frederick.

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