Phillips Island Donated to Boy Scouts - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Phillips Island Donated to Boy Scouts

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WICOMICO COUNTY, Md. - A nearly fifteen-year battle between Wicomico County and a former Tommy Hilfiger executive may soon be coming to an end. Edwin Lewis has agreed to donate the land to the Del-Mar-Va Council Boy Scouts of America. It's a move that Wicomico County officials say should settle the matter.

In 1999, Edwin Lewis purchased Phillips Island. The island rests on the Nanticoke River, several miles south of Vienna, and is surrounded by tidal waters. Water and land that was supposed to be protected by buffer zone laws.

Lewis, however, ignored those buffer laws and built six structures on the land. Thus ensued a fifteen-year battle characterized by numerous fines paid and money set aside for mitigation by Lewis.

Now, only one structure remains, and the Director of Planning and Zoning for Wicomico County and the city of Salisbury says they have approved an agreement between Lewis and the Boy Scouts to donate that building as well as the land it sits on. "Mr. Lewis could have returned to the board to try and retain that one, however he reached a private agreement with the boy scouts on a conveyance to them and so they will move forward as the applicant to keep one remaining building on the island,” says Jack Lenox.

But, whether it is Edwin Lewis or the Boy Scouts, Judith Stribling from the Friends of the Nanticoke River says there still needs to be some oversight making sure this land and the tidal waters surrounding it remain protected. "The big problem,” Stribling says, “is that we see with this transfer of land is that the boy scouts intend to use it as camping, bring in groups of scouts, who will have waste products to deal with.  Some of that they will take out, and their trash they will take out.  But they plan to have a very primitive camping approach of basically digging latrines." She hopes the land's new owners can act within the guidelines of what is regulated.

County officials say the Boy Scouts will face the same regulations as any other owner of the land. They believe the agreement between Lewis and the Boy Scouts is a solid outcome over the alternative. 

"He (Lewis) could have argued since he did remove the buildings, that he did do the other mitigation, that he could have come back and applied. And we'd be going through that process.  We can live with the boy scouts.  That's the proposal before us, that's the proposal we approved," Lenox says.

At this point, it is not known exactly what the Boy Scouts plan on using the land for. WBOC reached out to the Del-Mar-Va Council Boy Scouts of America for comment but have yet to receive a statement.
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