Since 1962, a small watermen's landing has been operating on Minnow Creek in the Whitehall Beach neighborhood. County zoning regulations classify this landing as a marina. The property is not zoned for a marina, so the landowner must obtain variances to remain in operation. Without the variances, the marina will close and the watermen who berth there will be forced out of business.
Last year the property owners Mike Spiegel and Karen Leva applied for and received the necessary variances from the County. At the hearing, many neighbors came out to show their support. In approving the variances, the Administrative Hearing Officer wrote: "The operation does not detract from the community. Instead, it forms a part of the County’s heritage."
A neighbor has appealed that decision to the County Board of Appeals. The Board has held three hearings already. The next one is set for April 25, with at least two more after that. Even if the Board ultimately supports the variances, the Board's decision can be appealed to the Circuit Court, and that can be appealed to the Court of Special Appeals.
Each hearing requires hours of preparation by the legal team and costs thousands of dollars. Mr. Spiegel, a lifelong commercial waterman, cannot afford to continue financing this battle on his own. This is why your help is critically important. Without financial support, Mr. Spiegel and his fellow watermen will have to give up the fight, and the marina will have to close.
This battle is bigger than one property owner. It's about preserving our county's heritage, and protecting the ability of watermen to continue earning their livelihood on the waters of the Chesapeake Bay.
We all enjoy the local crabs, fish and other seafood the Bay provides, but it would not be possible without the hard work the watermen do. Please donate today!
Why is this one marina so important to the watermen? The Hearing Officer wrote in his decision:
"The evidence shows that watermen who use the Minnow Creek watermen’s landing have no place to go if the Code is enforced because only one commercial waterman slip will be allowed... six or more of the watermen berthed at the subject property will be forced out of business if the requested variances are denied because there are no other available facilities they can use in Anne Arundel County. Queen Anne County has two commercial watermen marinas but the waiting list is upwards of five years before a slip comes available. Beyond that, however, berthing in Kent Narrows would require a journey in good weather of up to 90 minutes each way to reach the crabbing grounds between Annapolis and the Bay Bridge now harvested by the watermen who dock at the Minnow Creek watermen’s landing. The distance from Kent Narrows, even if slips were available, is too great to make such a location economically feasible as an alternative berthing site for the watermen now using the Minnow Creek watermen’s landing."
You can read the Hearing Officer's full decision here.
How will the funds be used?
All money raised will be used to cover the legal, land use and other related expenses incurred in this fight to preserve the marina's operation. GoFundMe allows a campaign to designate one person to withdraw the funds -- at Mike Spiegel's request, that person is his attorney Sager Williams. A complete listing of all disbursements will be provided to anyone upon request.
Please note donations are not tax-deductible.
Thank you for your support! Every dollar makes a difference.
- Rick Miller
- david Grabner
- Susan & Georgia Piatt
Organizer and beneficiary
#1 fundraising platform
More people start fundraisers on GoFundMe than on any other platform. Learn more
In the rare case something isn’t right, we will work with you to determine if misuse occurred. Learn more
Expert advice, 24/7
Contact us with your questions and we’ll answer, day or night. Learn more