A view of the banks of the Carmans River in...

A view of the banks of the Carmans River in Southaven County Park in Brookhaven. (May 30, 2012) Credit: Daniel Brennan

A new independent citizens advisory group on the Carmans River plan has been formed, according to a civic leader who opposed Brookhaven Supervisor Mark Lesko's original plan to protect the river.

MaryAnn Johnston, chair of the Affiliated Brookhaven Civic Organization, said in a release that the new Citizens' Committee for the Carmans will "operate in an open and transparent manner to prepare a watershed protection and management plan."

The 10-mile Carmans River is considered ecologically fragile. In an effort to protect it, Lesko had convened a study group made up of builders, environmentalists, planners and civic leaders that recommended the town transfer development rights away from delicate areas of the river's watershed.

Lesko withdrew the plan in March after opposition from residents and town council members who feared the transfer of development credits would create overdevelopment. The Lesko plan was also criticized for lack of community input.

Council members Connie Kepert, Steve Fiore-Rosenfeld and Dan Panico have proposed a new plan to acquire sensitive land in the watershed, and rezone other parcels that can't be purchased.

A few community meetings have been held since March, a pace Johnston said was too slow. She said she accepted Kepert's invitation to form a committee that "would be responsible for developing a community-based and scientifically-supported plan to protect the river and its watershed."

The new group's "members and advisers have been selected from planning, environmental and conservation experts and advocates, as well as the broader civic community," she said. The group hopes to complete a draft plan within four to six months.

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