Click on the map above to zoom in on places where CEDS has helped people defend their home, community and environment

A Few Examples of Our Many Successes

Following are summaries of a few of the many campaigns we’ve helped citizens to win. Our involvement ranged from providing free advice to managing the entire campaign. Our hundreds of other campaign successes touch on every impact, strategy option and other topic addressed in our book How To Win Land Development Issues. To see where we’ve helped people protect their neighborhood and environment visit the: CEDS map.

To see examples of CEDS successes click on the category of interest to you in the menu above.  And in the interest of full disclosure see: Cases We Didn’t Win.

Annexation & Zoning

Trappe, MD: The thousand-acre Trappe East site was annexed into the Town of Trappe, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, in 2005. The applicant proposed developing the site with 2500 housing units. Had the project proceeded it would have increased the population of Trappe by more than five-fold. Thanks in part to a CEDS strategy the site remains farm fields and forests to this day.

Clearwater, FL: Our clients were concerned about a proposed annexation which would have placed high-density housing next to their homes and impacted a sensitive lake. CEDS assistance has led to the applicant redrawing their plans to greatly reduce impacts.

Naples, FL: As with the Clearwater case, our clients were concerned about a proposed annexation which would have placed high-density housing next to their homes. CEDS assistance has also led to the applicant redrawing their plans to greatly reduce impacts.

Gas Stations & Convenience Stores

New Braunfels, TX: A gas station-convenience store was proposed on the edge of a residential community. Nearby homeowners were concerned about: health effects, light trespass, flooding, and property value decline. CEDS helped the residents to implement a strategy to convince the City Council to deny the Special Use Permit the applicant needed. Our Initial Strategy Analysis can be viewed at: http://ceds.org/strategy/ISA-NewBraunfelsTX.pdf. Our comments letter, which was a key factor in the City Council decision to deny approval, is posted at: http://ceds.org/strategy/CEDS-GoodwinMarketLetter.pdf

Citrus Heights, CA: Our clients reported that “After intense objections by many residents, the planning department decided they would require a full environmental review for the project, after which the applicant removed his application. It appears the gas station proposal has been changed to a retail with a drive thru coffee shop. Looks like a win for us, but watching very closely for any changes.”

Casey’s, IA: Regarding the proposed gas station-convenience store our client reported “The request was dropped primarily because of the traffic problems. Your information was valuable and, coupled with an assist from traffic control at City Hall, the matter was dismissed without hearing.”

Naples, FL: Our clients reported that “As it stands right now, RaceTrac has chosen an alternate site approximately 1/8 mile away. They have an approved site development plan for this new location and the rumor is that they will break ground in March. However, I won’t truly rest easy until they open the doors as they still own the land next to our neighborhood. For your reference, our success was a result of our willingness to educate ourselves on the code and leverage it to our advantage. If you recall, RaceTrac required a distance waiver triggered by the adjacent 7-eleven. This waiver required approval by our county commissioners. As a community, we worked tirelessly to educate our officials about why this project did not comply with the criteria required to grant the waiver and obviously, they agreed with us. The project was never heard by our commission as RaceTrac knew they didn’t have the votes. While we did retain an attorney, in this case it was absolutely unnecessary and ended up being a very poor use of our financial resources.”

Ellicott City, MD: A CEDS strategy resulted in the local Board of Appeals denying a conditional use permit in a long time. The permit was needed to locate a gas station on a site which would have impacted traffic safety, a sensitive stream, and historic resources.

Golf Courses

Smyrna, DE Golf Course Preserved: Those living next to a large golf course were concerned about a proposal to build housing units throughout the fairways, greens and tees. A primary concern was the impact of golf course development on Garrisons Lake along with traffic and viewshed impacts. A 2003 CEDS analysis and strategy were key factors in convincing Kent County, DE officials to deny approval for the housing project. After 15 years the course continues to exist today.

Wilmington NC Golf Course Redevelopment: Wilmington, NC residents were concerned about development of the golf course their homes overlooked. With CEDS assistance the residents mobilized the public support needed to convince local officials to purchase, then preserve, the portion of the course most important to the residents.

Tulsa OK Golf Course Redevelopment: Those owning homes next to a Tulsa, OK golf course have been pursuing a CEDS strategy to prevent redevelopment. Thus far the strategy and developer financial difficulties have preserved the course. Our clients have put measures in place to implement additional phases of our strategy should redevelopment begin moving forward again.

Martha’s Vineyard Cove Protected: The Vineyard Conservation Society was troubled by a golf course proposed for a cove on Martha’s Vineyard. The Society retained CEDS to evaluate the impact to the Cove. We found that fertilizer and pesticide losses would be sufficiently high to threaten the highly sensitive cove. Testimony by CEDS and others, along with great organizing by the Society, prompted the Martha’s Vineyard Commission to deny approval for the golf course. For further detail see: Effects of Meeting House Golf Club upon Edgartown Great Pond.

Hawaiian Golf Course Impact Reduction: CEDS was retained by the Hawaii Office of State Planning to assist the Kaneohe Bay Task Force and Hawaii’s Thousand Friends in evaluating the potential impact of three proposed golf courses. All three courses were located in the watershed of Kaneohe Bay. Our report proposed a number of steps for minimizing the impact of the courses upon the highly sensitive ecosystem of the Bay. Unfortunately the developers of the three courses did not follow the recommendations and proceeded with the projects despite significant, unresolved social and environmental concerns. All three courses were rejected by the Honolulu City-County Council.

Highways

Charlottesville, VA: An expansion of U.S. Route 29 threatened the major water supply reservoir serving Charlottesville. A CEDS critique of the Environmental Impact Statement was instrumental in winning a route change which safeguarded the reservoir. Our analysis can be viewed at: http://ceds.org/pdfdocs/Highways.PDF.

Bushnell, IL: In 2006, CEDS helped area residents with concerns regarding a proposed to construct Route 336 through their farms. This assistance succeeded in bumping the preferred route away from our clients’ farms.

Howard County, MD: An eight-mile section of Route 32 was proposed for widening from two-lanes to four. The tremendous increase in traffic volume would have caused a number of negative effects to the residential communities within the corridor. Thanks in part to CEDS assistance, corridor residents succeeded in preventing the widening. The CEDS strategy for this campaign can be viewed at: http://ceds.org/pdfdocs/Strategy.PDF

Landfills, Transfer Stations, Recycling, MRFs & Other Waste Facilities

Flawed Recycling-Material Recovery Facility (MRF) Defeated:  With assistance from CEDS Florida residents recently defeated a flawed recycling or Material Recovery Facility (MRF) that threatened to harm their homes due to excessive noise, dust, odors and loss of property value. While recycling and MRFs can provide many benefits, they are essentially intense industrial operations posing potentially severe harm to those living nearby.

CEDS assisted area residents in researching the effects of existing recycling facilities similar to that proposed near their homes. Our clients visited these facilities and spoke with those living or working nearby. They found that the similar facilities caused excessive harm when located within 600 feet of a home. This research was combined with other information gathered by CEDS and compiled into our Initial Strategy Analysis. We then drafted the following testimony for our clients to present before the local Planning & Zoning Board. This testimony convinced the Board to recommend denial by a vote of 6 to 1 .

Our clients wrote the following…

Thank you so much Richard. I printed them [our testimony] out and peter will be reading that. No matter what happens tonight I just want to sincerely thank you for your help and support every step of the way it’s really incredible what you did for us!

Texas Zero Waste Strategy: Those living near a proposed landfill site in Texas asked CEDS to carry out an Initial Strategy Analysis of options to safeguard their community. Most efforts to stop landfills rely solely on legal action to block permits, and opposition only come from nearby residents. This approach fails because landfill decisions are political and once local elected officials decide on a site it’s rare that permits are denied. And the site selected is invariably the one likely to generate the least opposition. Most successes in resolving proposed landfill impacts occur in a political arena. Because of this CEDS urged a strategy to mobilize widespread public support for eliminating the need for a new landfill by: 1) adopting a Zero Waste plan similar to that of Austin, TX, and 2) hauling waste to existing landfills until the goal of zero waste was achieved. This strategy would make it possible to generate opposition to the landfill from those living throughout the city proposing the landfill; not just nearby residents. It’s also far easier to mobilize public support for a positive approach to eliminating the need for landfills than sticking the dump in someone else’s backyard.

Landfill Special Exception Denied: This case was one of those rare instances where legal action combined with a political strategy did succeed, though the proposed landfill was very poorly designed. Aquasco, MD residents had learned that a 150-acre landfill was proposed for their area. They were deeply concerned about increased truck traffic, noise, odors, air and water pollution, property value loss and impacts to a historic African-American church. CEDS documented that all these impacts would occur. The evidence presented in support of each impact prompted the local decision-making body to deny a special exception for the landfill. For further detail see: Status of Potential Issues & Strategy Options Brownville Rubble Landfill.

Transfer Station Defeated: A solid waste transfer station was proposed for a site east of Washington, D.C. The site abutted several existing waste facilities, making it a logical place to put a transfer station. A CEDS analysis showed that the transfer station (as proposed) would have exacerbated health and other impacts caused by the existing waste facilities. This technical analysis was combined with a CEDS political strategy that nixed the transfer station. The CEDS analysis and strategy can be viewed in the PowerPoint posted at: http://ceds.org/pdfdocs/WesternRunTransferStationFullPresentation.pdf

Mining

Waldorf, MD Mining Halved: The Saint Peters Home Owners Association was concerned about a large mining operation proposed for a site adjoining their community. Their specific concerns included well impacts, increased truck traffic, noise, dust, and pollution of a highly regarded wetland adjoining the site. With assistance from CEDS the Association won a decision from the County Board of Appeals that cut the proposed mining operation in half, thus greatly reducing the potential impact upon nearby residents and the environment.

Lake Merkel, SC Preserved: Berkeley County, SC residents and the Audubon Society were concerned about potential impacts of a 118-acre mining proposal to two highly sensitive areas: Lake Merkel and Four Holes Swamp. Residents were also concerned about truck traffic, noise, dust and visual impacts. A CEDS analysis identified Equitable Solutions for all of these concerns. The solutions were presented in the CEDS letter posted at: http://ceds.org/mining/EquitableSolutionsLetterAnon.pdf. The applicant agreed to implement the solutions voluntarily. A number of the solutions were incorporated into the South Carolina mining permit.

Globally Rare Wetland Saved: Wade’s Savanna is one of seven Central Coastal Plain Basin Swamps in the world. A mining company had proposed excavating a 70-foot deep pit covering 140-acres next to Wade’s Savanna. The resulting extraction of sand and gravel would have dewatered (and killed) Wade’s Savanna. After partial execution of a strategy developed by CEDS the applicant became convinced that they stood little chance of getting mining permits. They then sold the site below market value to a preservation organization. For further detail see: Protecting Wades Savanna, Nearby Residents & the Marshyhope Scout Camp from Mining Impacts.

Neighborhood Street Safety

Texas Cul De Sac Street Preserved: The developer of a massive 1700-unit Fort Worth housing project proposed using Clark Road – a narrow, neighborhood cul de sac street – as a second access point. Had this proposal been approved traffic volume on Clark Road could have gone from a few hundreds cars a day to more than 37,000!

The cul de sac residents were preparing for a Plan Commission hearing when they retained CEDS. Our Initial Strategy Analysis research showed two key factors:

    • The developer had other options for access, and
    • The Plan Commission had a history of denying approval for similar projects.

These two factors prompted us to urge the cul de sac residents to testify at the hearing using a letter drafted by CEDS. But rather than calling for denial we recommended that our clients ask the Commission to:

    • Require the developer to use an alternate access,
    • Require an emergency-services only gate, and to
    • Continue the hearing so the residents could work with the developer to find a mutually satisfactory solution.

This testimony prompted the Plan Commission to grant the continuance and sent strong signals to the developer that he needed to find a way to resolve cul de sac resident concerns. The developer then submitted a revised plan showing NO connection to Clark Road!  A clean victory for Clark Road residents and CEDS.  A Thank You note from our clients follows.

Through-Traffic Nixed: Southfork Court is a quiet, dead-end street with 14 townhomes. The Court is more then a place where residents park their cars. Children play in the Court. An annual picnic and other gatherings are held on the Court. But all this would’ve changed with plans to extend the Court into a through-road to serve a proposed development project. This action would have increased traffic on the Court by 800%. County policy required a second means of emergency vehicle access into the proposed development. An extension of Southfork Court was the only way of meeting this requirement. CEDS research of past decisions revealed an equitable solution. After extensive negotiations with the applicant and County officials, they agreed to extend the Court and place a gate across it which only emergency personnel could open. This solution provided the second means of emergency access without any increase in normal traffic volume, thus preserving the tranquility of Southfork Court. For further detail see: Preventing Cul-De-Sac Streets from Becoming Through Roads.

Rural Road Impact Nixed: Butler residents learned that a developer wished to funnel traffic from a large housing project onto a narrow, twisting road which wound through their valley. To create the new intersection the developer needed to remove a hump in the road which caused an unsafe sight-distance condition. CEDS research uncovered the fact that one of the Butler residents owned the portion of the road where the hump was located. Thus the developer would need the resident’s permission to proceed. Permission was, of course, denied and the applicant found another way to access their site, but from a much safer road.

Student Housing, Parking & Traffic: Our clients wrote” Remember us in Amherst, MA? You helped my neighborhood group of seniors abutting a proposed student dorm development get a MA traffic engineer to do a peer review. There were no project ending bombshells with that, but the engineer did dig up a Level of Service F—over capacity and high level of rear end collisions—that developer’s traffic guy omitted or buried in the footnotes. We also think hiring an engineer showed our ZBA the seriousness of our opposition to having this dense student housing at our doorstep that will bring all kinds of mayhem and traffic to our neighborhood. So where are we now? Amazingly, following many of your CEDS guidelines, we’ve gotten a lot of concessions from the tough developer who’s been trying to “prove” this is multi-family not student housing.”

River, Lake & Wetland Preservation

Globally Rare Wetland Saved: Wade’s Savanna is one of seven Central Coastal Plain Basin Swamps in the world. A mining company had proposed excavating a 70-foot deep pit covering 140-acres next to Wade’s Savanna. The resulting extraction of sand and gravel would have dewatered (and killed) Wade’s Savanna. After partial execution of a strategy developed by CEDS the applicant became convinced that they stood little chance of getting mining permits. They then sold the site below market value to a preservation organization. For further detail see: Protecting Wades Savanna, Nearby Residents & the Marshyhope Scout Camp from Mining Impacts.

Beaver Lake Protected: Residents of King County, Washington had watched the waters of Beaver Lake become increasing fouled with algae as area development increased. An analysis by CEDS documented that development was the cause and that the lake was near a critical threshold. If development increased further then the lake could reach a point where severe problems with odor, fish kills and loss of property value would occur. This finding prompted County officials to require a full environmental impact statement for a proposed development project.

Clean Water Law Compliance Improved 61%: CEDS organized a highly-successful effort to improve compliance with one of our most important Clean Water laws: construction site pollution. Construction sites are a leading cause of the turbidity damaging grass beds, fish eggs-larvae and a host other sensitive aquatic communities. One site can damage three miles of downstream waters for a century. In 2014, 69 volunteers from 15 organizations assessed compliance on 131 construction sites located in Baltimore City and the five surrounding counties. This first survey revealed that only 23% of the sites fully complied with Clean Water laws. As a result of the publicity generated by this first survey regulators and elected officials gained the public support needed to increase inspections. The 2015 survey documented a 61% improvement in compliance. 

Stormwater BMP Failures Halved: A CEDS 2011 study noted that half the stormwater ponds and other Anne Arundel County, MD Best Management Practices (BMPs) were failing. As a result thousands of pounds of pollutants were needlessly fouling Anne Arundel waters. This appalling failure rate was mostly due to the County having cut the stormwater BMP inspection-maintenance staff from six in 2001 to just one. The 50% failure was due to the lack of adequate inspections and maintenance for a decade. A 2012 joint lobbying effort by CEDS and the County’s river organizations succeeded in getting the six staff restored. A 2015 CEDS study noted that the BMP failure rate had been halved thanks to the restored inspection-maintenance capabilities.

$500,000 in Aquatic Resource Protection: A massive shopping center was proposed for a site at the head of a highly sensitive river. Area citizens treasured the river but were not necessarily opposed to the shopping center. However, they were very concerned about the thousands of gallons of contaminated runoff which would flow from the shopping center into the river. CEDS helped local activists demonstrate widespread community support for preserving the river and organized a legal team which convinced the applicant they were in for a long fight. The applicant then offered to put in some additional runoff pollution controls, costing about $100,000. We eventually got them to agree to what was really needed – $500,000 in aquatic resource protection measures.

Marina Expansion Scuttled: The owner of an existing marina on the Bohemia River sought to expand the number of boats and piers. Other Bohemia River waterfront property owners were deeply concerned about the impact of increased boating activity on shore erosion, fish, grass and shellfish beds. A thorough analysis by CEDS determined that the applicant’s plans showed waters to be much deeper than they actually were. In fact, the waters were so shallow that the state permitting agency denied approval for the expansion.

View From Homes Protected

Baltimore County, MD: Sparks-Glencoe residents were concerned about a proposed townhouse project that would have damaged the view from one of the most scenic sections of York Road. They were also concerned about the poor stormwater pollution control proposed by the applicant. As shown in the accompanying before-after illustrations, CEDS helped the residents gain the political leverage needed to get the applicant to eliminate a number of townhouses and vastly improve landscaping, both of which greatly reduced viewshed impact. The applicant also upgraded stormwater control to state-of-the-art practices.

Visual Impact Resolved: Rural residents were deeply troubled by a proposal to build new houses within view of their homes. They feared the loss of a natural view, light trespass from street lamps, and glare from the floodlights new homeowners tend to plaster all over their houses. After our clients threatened to get the site downzoned (a real possibility) the applicant agreed to forego the street lights, place a covenant in the homeowners association bylaws restricting outside lighting, and to provide the additional landscaping needed to preserve the view. These points were set forth in a written agreement which the applicant and the rural residents signed. The agreement also required making it a binding condition of County development approvals. This makes government responsible for enforcement – not the rural residents. The applicant also reimbursed the rural residents for the $2,000 they paid CEDS to win this victory.

Alternate Site Design Protects Neighborhood: Residents of the Heatherwood and Willow Springs communities learned that an adjoining 40-acre site was proposed for development at twice the anticipated density. The community’s concerns included well contamination and the loss of a strip of woodland which would have provided a visual buffer. CEDS helped community residents file two appeals of project approvals. We then helped residents to understand the technical aspects of the issues sufficiently so that they could redesign lot layout in a way that resolved well impacts and greatly reduced visual impacts. The applicant, who had refused to negotiate before the appeals were filed, agreed to much of the community’s redesign of the project.

Cases We Didn’t Win

Most of our losses occurred prior to 2005. From 1987, when Richard Klein founded CEDS, to 2005 a conventional strategy was pursued for the most part. This conventional approach consisted of hiring a lawyer and expert witnesses to block the issuance of a key permit. Unfortunately, this strategy only succeeded about 5% of the time while costing our clients $10,000 to $50,000.

Usually the best outcome after spending all this money was a negotiated settlement. In 2005, CEDS abandoned this conventional approach in favor of Equitable Solutions, Politically Oriented Advocacy, and Smart Legal Strategies. Since adopting these more effective strategies our clients lose very few cases and the costs are a fraction of that associated with the “hire a lawyer-kill the project” approach.

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