A Public Hearing was held today at 10:00 a.m. in the County Commissioners’ Hearing Room, County Government Center, Chestertown, Maryland. The purpose of the hearing was to address the proposed amendment to the comprehensive water and sewerage plan to include updated information on the Tolchester sanitary service area.
In response to requests from residents in the Tolchester Service Area for sewer allocations, a hydraulic study of the collection system was conducted by McCrone, Inc. and it was determined that additional allocations are allowable subject to certain criteria. Additional sewer allocations may be granted provided that (1) the owner(s) of the property seeking such allocation establishes through the McCrone study, or through another accepted study, that the county’s sewer lines will not need to be extended; and no upgrades to the county’s sewer system, including but not limited to the sewer lines, will be needed or necessary; and (2) the property shall otherwise meet all applicable laws, regulations and criteria including being located within the designated growth area shown on the Tolchester delineated development area map.
County Commissioners, Roy Crow, Ronald Fithian, and William Pickrum were in attendance as well as Susanne Hayman, County Administrator, Thomas Yeager, County Attorney, Wayne Morris, Director, Karl Weed, Deputy Director, Water and Wastewater Services, Gail Owings, Director of Planning, and Jim Wright, County Engineer. There were also approximately 10 interested persons in attendance and one member of the media.
Commissioner Crow read the Notice of Public Hearing into the record. Mr. Yeager read the Procedures for Testimony into the record.
Correspondence in opposition to the proposed amendment was received from Sue Brown and Tracy Stone.
Mr. Morris reiterated that the purpose of the public hearing is to allow some additional water and sewer allocations for the Tolchester Service Area. He informed that the Commissioners passed a resolution on February 19 that would allow additional allocations in Tolchester subject to the following criteria: 1) no extension of water and sewer lines 2) no upgrades to the system and 3) approval of all appropriate agencies. The water and sewer plan now has to be amended and sent to the state for approval. In 2004, a committee was formed by the Commissioners to look at the Tolchester Area to allow an additional 10 allocations. This committee also determined areas in Tolchester that would allow growth. Mr. Morris informed that the waiting list compiled from 2004 was sent to McCrone for evaluation to see if the properties meet criteria established from the hydraulic study. Subject to approval by the state, these properties would be sent letters informing that they are eligible to connect to the system.
Also, anyone else with properties in this particular area that fall within the hydraulic study criteria may also be eligible to connect to the system.
Testimony was received from the following:
Vic Priapi, 928 North Bayview Avenue, stated that in 1996, Kent County had the foresight to connect the residences of Tolchester to a public sewer system, previously they all had their own wells and septic systems. Nearly all of the nitrogen in the wastewater is removed by a sewage treatment plant. He stated that the treatment plant in Fairlee is operating below its design limits and standards and adding allocations will have little effect on its discharge into the environment. Tolchester should be given the opportunity for modest, well planned and economically sound growth.
Bonnie Bennett, 2111 Texas Avenue, informed that she has applied for allocations and currently resides in the area being considered for the allocations. She stated that she is in favor of allocations to the area, especially if the pipes are sufficient to handle the additional allocations.
Jim Stone, 8796 Maryland Parkway, commented that with all of the problems that have been experienced in Tolchester, he cannot imagine why any additional homes would be built there. He stated that there is a problem with standing water after rains. He stated that agencies are not addressing the problems as they should. He stated that Tolchester was never supposed to be a growth area and the proximity to the Chesapeake Bay make growth in the area a problem. He stated that drainage and road problems in the area need to be addressed before additional allocations are approved.
Roy Hoagland, 8614 Elm Road, stated that there is only one road going into the main portion of Tolchester Estates, which holds approximately 200 properties. Tall trees line the east side of Elm Road. If a storm brought down a tree on this road, it would stop all traffic and could cause a potential safety hazard. He suggested that some of the trees be removed to diminish the potential threat. Mr. Hoagland expressed his concerns that an unlimited amount of allocations could be provided in the studied area. Commissioner Fithian informed that to qualify for an allocation, people in the studied area would have to meet all of the rules and regulations that anyone else requesting an allocation from Kent County would have to meet. Upon question raised by Mr. Morris, Mr. Hoagland stated that the trees referred to on Elm Road are on private property. Mr. Morris commented that there is not really anything that the county can do as far as removing the trees if they are located on private property.
Fred Kirchner, 21248 Maine Avenue, commented that through the years and the additional allocations approved in Tolchester, infrastructure problems have not been addressed. He commented that Tolchester lacks the amount of electricity needed for the homes that are already there, and cannot support any additional homes. He stated that many of the new homes are not complying with CAC regulations and other issues. New homes have heat pumps and electric heating and are adding to the overloading of the Tolchester. There are many homes that are now blocking views of the bay. Mr. Kirchner stated that if these allocations are approved, Tolchester will be providing an incentive to real estate agents to market the area.
Sue Brown, 8863 Baltimore Street, commented that many Tolchester residents raised concerns as to the time of the public hearing. Ms. Brown referenced her letter addressed to the Commissioners. She expressed concerns relating to a lack of police patrol on dirt roads in Tolchester. She also expressed concerns relating to the lack of power going to the homes in Tolchester. She questioned whether apartments in Tolchester were considered in the total number of allocations in the area. She suggested that another hearing be held in Tolchester on a Saturday to give more residents the opportunity to voice their concerns.
Danny Bennett, 2111 Texas Avenue, commented that the lines that run in front of his property are large enough to support an allocation and he sees no reason that he should not be allowed an allocation.
In response to question raised by Commissioner Fithian, Mr. Morris informed that initially the sewer system was put in place in Tolchester to take care of failing sewer systems. There were 40 allocations built in for additional growth in the area. After the 40 allocations were used, additional allocations were being requested and a waiting list was formed. The Commissioners at the time requested 10 additional allocations for the properties on the waiting list. It was then agreed that the next administration would determine if the area could be opened up for more allocations in the future. Commissioner Fithian questioned whether the infrastructure problems discussed existed when the initial 40 allocations were approved. Mr. Morris stated that these problems already existed.
Jackie Frank, 9204 Queen Anne, stated that she was in support of the system that was put in place in 1996. She stated that her home is located one lot over from the grinder system which takes the sewage out to the bay. She stated that during weekends in the summer and during parts of the winter the system is on all of the time. She stated that the stench associated with the system is horrible and there are frequent repairs needed to the system. She stated that after bad rains, water from the system is lying on the roads. She also stated that there is sewage on the beach, as well as needles and garbage. She stated that it is unfair to add more people to a system that is not working properly. Mr. Morris stated that to his knowledge there have been no excessive problems with the sewer pumps. Commissioner Crow stated that the discharge on the beach is coming from the Susquehanna River.
Mr. Kirchner commented that when the system was put into place, the electrical problems did not exist. He commented that the heat pumps are adding to the electrical problems because each new residence adds a 3 horse power pump to the infrastructure. Commissioner Fithian requested that Mr. Morris contact Delmarva Power to get an opinion as to what is causing the electrical problems in the Tolchester area.
Mr. Morris commented the homes having problems with electrical currents are likely homes that serviced from the main service line. He stated that the service should be adequate at the street to provide for the homes. He stated that he will look into this matter.
This hearing was taped for reference and adjourned at 10:40 a.m.
The Commissioners will accept comments on this proposed amendment up to March 24 at 12:00 p.m.
THE COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
OF KENT COUNTY, MARYLAND
Janice F. Fletcher
Roy W. Crow, President