A Public Hearing was held today at 9:30 a.m. in the County Commissioners’ Hearing Room, County Government Center, Chestertown, Maryland. The purpose of the hearing is to amend the Comprehensive Water and Sewerage Plan to include updated information on the proposed Drayton Manor Retreat, Spa and Conference Center.
The Developer proposes to renovate the existing Manor House and several outbuildings and construct new buildings to expand the existing use of the property as a retreat and conference center. The developer proposes to use a combination trench and drip irrigation system to provide sufficient capacity for sewerage design flows of approximately 29,800 GPD. The drip irrigation portion of the system will require a minimum 30 day storage facility. The system would include a pretreatment system designed to reduce nitrogen.
County Commissioners, Roy Crow, Ronald Fithian, and William Pickrum were in attendance as well as Susanne Hayman, County Administrator, Thomas Yeager, County Attorney, and Wayne Morris, Director, Water and Wastewater Services. John Petro, Applicant, and his attorney C. Daniel Saunders, were also in attendance, as well as Gail Owings, Director of Planning, and Jim Wright, County Engineer.
There were approximately 40 interested persons in attendance and one member of the media.
Commissioner Crow read the Notice of Public Hearing into the record as well as Procedures for Testimony.
Commissioner Fithian requested clarification from Mr. Morris as to the purpose of the hearing. He also requested clarification on the drip irrigation system.
Mr. Morris stated that the purpose of this hearing is to amend the county Comprehensive Water and Sewer Plan to provide consistency with the county plan to include what has been approved thus far for the Drayton Manor project. He stated that there will be additional hearings to be held by MDE for the discharge permit and the storm water appropriation permit and others that will be held as the permit process continues. The process could not continue until the application is approved to be included in the Comprehensive Water and Sewer Plan. Mr. Morris stated that the drip irrigation system is a network of small pipes that are used to disperse the affluent over the designated area.
Commissioner Fithian requested clarification as to the requirement for a minimum of a 30 day storage facility. On behalf of the applicant, Cliff Stein, Soil Scientist, Earth Data, informed that the state requires a minimum of a 30 day storage facility for drip irrigation systems. He stated that the drip irrigation system has less limitations than a spray irrigation system and would need less storage.
Commissioner Crow questioned whether this system would remove nitrogen and phosphorus. Mr. Stein stated that typically this system would remove both. He stated that typically the permit requires that both are removed. He noted that the soil is permeable and is typically able to remove the phosphorus.
Bill Knepshield questioned what data is used to determine how much is able to be stored in the facility. Mr. Stein stated that the storage facility is required to be a total holding facility. He stated that drainage class and type of soil are used to determine if you need to store more than the minimum state requirement. He stated that storage is driven by climatic data.
Testimony was received from the following:
Carl Gallegos expressed concern that the proposal presented by Drayton Manor LLC does not adequately address the potential for negative impact that this could have on the water quality for Still Pond and Churn Creeks as well as the habitat for plants, animals and the environment and the potential for increased pollution and soil erosion. Mr. Gallegos stated that the current capacity for drainage into the soils is not limited for a Limited Development Area (LDA). He stated that the change to an Intense Development Area (IDA) will exceed the carrying capacity for wastewater drainage. Mr. Gallegos informed that the Chester River Association (CRA) opposes the building of private sewage treatment plants according to the CRA Riverkeeper’s Almanac, Spring 2007). He also expressed concern that the potential for soil erosion has not been adequately addressed.
Clark Johnson expressed concerns that other systems of this size have ruptured and caused disasters due to environmental factors. He stated that it is inconceivable that this system could move forward that could be a potential disaster to the Chesapeake Bay. It is his opinion that the tasks used in other areas are ugly.
Paul DiSantis Esq., representing opponents, expressed concern regarding the size, scope, scale of the project. He stated that the proposed system is twice the size of the system in place in the Town of Betterton. He expressed concern over need to protect individuals on private well systems.
Dr. Jerry Smith cited sections of the Comprehensive Plan Growth Allocation Policy, Critical Area Program, and Comprehensive Water and Sewerage Plan as it relates to goals and purpose. He stated that if this amendment is approved, the Commissioners will be acknowledging the placement of a 29,800 GPD shared wastewater system in a residential critical area with a history of failed septic systems.
Dr. Smith stated that the Kent County Health Department has posted signs informing of contaminated water areas in Kinnairds Point Creek. He presented pictures of the areas for the Commissioners’ information. Commissioner Fithian reminded that the Maryland Department of the Environment will decide whether the requested permit should be issued and whether the new system will contribute to the current problems. He noted that the problems in the Kinniards Point Creek were not caused by the proposed system.
Ray Lokay, President, Kinnairds Point Property Owners Association, stated that he perceives this to be a procedural amendment. He expressed concern over the size, scope, and scale of the project and the movement of the property from an LDA to an IDA zone. He expressed concern that the project has continued to move up in volume and capacity. He requested the Commissioners to look at the magnitude of the decision they are about to make.
Jack Boehinger expressed concerns regarding the size, scope, and scale of the development and the constant change in the plans. He questioned why standard rules in the county need to be amended. He requested that the application be returned to the Planning and Zoning Department for an informed review of the application.
Commissioner Crow opened the hearing to questions from the audience.
Liz Clark questioned whether a system of this proportion under State regulations could be used to service a Town the size of Betterton. Mr. Morris stated that there are comparable systems that use a drip irrigation system. He stated that it would be possible to use a system similar to the proposed system for Betterton.
Commissioner Fithian reminded that if the drip irrigation system works as planned, it will be more environmentally friendly than the current water and wastewater systems that contain discharge because the sewer will be absorbed through the ground and the nitrogen and phosphates will be taken out through the plant. He also reminded that the 29,000 GPD number was given through a study conducted by Earth Data that determined how much flow the ground was capable of holding. He stated that if the Commissioners allow this project to go forward, MDE will decide whether or not this number is accurate. He stated that as the project develops the size, scope, and scale will be made clearer. Mr. Morris informed that MDE has the authority to adjust the number GPD needed.
Commissioner Pickrum questioned where the initial figure of 13,000 GPD came from. Mr. Morris stated that this number was based on preliminary investigation conducted in 2004 in the original amendment submitted. He stated that to his knowledge there was no actual field work conducted during this time. Commissioner Pickrum stated that he finds it difficult to justify the increase in GPD because it was a part of the original application. Mr. Saunders stated that the MDE will not process a permit until after the Comprehensive Water and Sewer Plan is amended. He stated that the developers had to make educated guesses as to what would be needed for the project. He also stated that due to the time spent completing the processes of the MDE, the developer has had the opportunity to further develop his business plan and come up with more information for the project. Commissioner Pickrum stated that there had been poor planning for this project and expressed his belief that the change in GPD is perceived as “bait and switch.”
Mr. Saunders reminded that the process for Kent County to create a Comprehensive Water and Sewerage Plan requires a GPD number to be given at the onset of the project. He stated that because of this requirement, a number was given early on.
Commissioner Fithian stated that process would be a lot smoother if MDE would inform of what needed to be done up front and then request the County’s approval.
Paul Hanley questioned the design of the holding facility and how the system will handle any type of driving or parking that may take place on the areas above the underground pipes. Mr. Stein stated that the storage facility could be an enclosed tank or a pond that is open to the atmosphere. He stated that the disadvantage of having an open tank is that precipitation is able to enter. If precipitation enters the system it will then have to be discharged. He noted that most systems are open systems. He stated that the drip is placed at 6 inches and could sustain typical mowing and some traffic. He stated that parking above the system would not be considered good practice.
Mr. DiSantis requested clarification as to the definition of a multi-use system. Mr. Morris informed that a multi-use system is defined as having multiple owners coming together to use one system. Commissioner Crow reminded that only one entity is being served by the proposed system.
Doug Smith questioned whether what enters the tank will be affluent and whether it will be chemically treated. It will be treated with stated that what enters the tank will be treated 95% or more reduction of BOD and suspended solids and a nitrogen reduction of an amount determined by the State.
Richard Piacella expressed concern over testing that takes place in Aberdeen, MD that creates trembling of grounds in the County. In consideration of this trembling, he questioned who will inspect the tanks for leakage. Mr. Morris informed that tanks will be checked regularly. He stated that if there is something in the tanks that is not functioning properly, it will have to be reported immediately. He noted that the owners could be fined for each day that the problem goes untreated.
Mr. Lokay questioned what the purpose of the Comprehensive Plan was if it can be amended. It was stated that the Comprehensive Plan sets the procedure for amendments to be made.
E-mail correspondence in opposition to the Comprehensive Water and Sewer Plan amendment was received from the following: Mike McCormick, Courtney Sjostrom, and Jane Hukill.
This hearing was taped for reference and adjourned at 11:00 a.m.
The Commissioners will accept comments on this proposed amendment up to Friday, June 22, at 12:00 p.m.
THE COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
OF KENT COUNTY, MARYLAND
Janice F. Fletcher
Roy W. Crow, President