September 16, 2008
A public hearing was held today at 10:00 a.m. in the County Commissionersí Hearing Room, County Government Center, Chestertown, Maryland, for the purpose of amending the comprehensive water and sewerage plan to include the proposed extension of the existing water and sewer lines from the end of the existing service area on Loverís Lane to serve 11 properties approximately 0.5 miles along Loverís Lane.
County Commissioners Roy Crow, Ronald Fithian, and William Pickrum, were in attendance as well as Susanne Hayman, County Administrator, Wayne Morris, Director, Water and Wastewater Services, Karl Weed, Deputy Director, eight interested persons and two members of the media.
Commissioner Crow read the Notice of Public Hearing into the record.
The County Commissioners propose to extend the existing water and sewer lines to serve 11 lots which have been declared to have/had failing septic systems. Notwithstanding the policy on denied access lines in section 1.9 of this plan, access will be granted only for parcels #21, #22, #42, #50, #51, #52, #53, #57, #100, #136 and #154 located on Tax Map 46, and is denied to all other parcels including agricultural parcels adjoining the service area right of way and any future lots that may be subdivided after the date of this amendment from parcel 18 and parcel 19.
The County is proposing to request a combination of grant/loan funding from rural development and/or MDE to pay for extension of both lines.
Mr. Morris state that the Maryland Department of Planning (MDP) had a problem with the identification of the proposed service area because it was located outside of the Priority Funding Area (PFA) and that State funding would not be approved for the project until specific changes were made to the plan. The MDP requested that the 11 properties be identified that were previously identified by the sanitary survey. Mr. Morris informed that parcel 18 already has a hook up and parcel 19 already has an allocation, without a hook-up. He stated that the MDP wanted assurance that these two properties will not be able to subdivide and hook up to the water and sewer line in the future. These two properties have been separately identified. Also identified in this proposal are the denied access sewer and water lines. After approval by the Commissioners, the map containing the requested identified areas will be forwarded to MDP for approval. Mr. Morris stated that under the Countyís current agreement with the Town of Rock Hall, there is sufficient capacity to hook up the 11 properties with no problem. Approval from the Town of Rock Hall will be needed for these connections. Mr. Morris stated that unless there are failing septic systems, the MDP will not approve extension of water and sewer service outside of a PFA.
Reverend Ruben Freeman, who was observing in the audience, questioned who the property owners are who are unable to hook up to the sewer line. Mr. Morris informed that Parcel 18 is owned by Ina May Puppe and Rickie Gordon Reed and Parcel 19 is owned by Elaine Pratt.
David Pratt, who was in the audience, and speaking on behalf of Parcel 19, expressed concerns that as a tax payer he is paying for changes to the public water system over a ten year period, but is not permitted to connect to the water and sewer line when it is in front of his property. Mr. Pratt stated that he would like to build a home on this property for his elderly father and feels that he should be able to hook up to the extended sewer line. Commissioner Pickrum stated that the idea of this project is to serve existing dwellings and not new homes. Mr. Pratt commented that he does not legally understand how he can be kept from accessing this sewer line when he will be paying for it as a tax payer. He commented that he may want to leave his property for his children to subdivide in the future. The Commissioners responded that septic systems would have to be installed. Mr. Pratt questioned whether the properties being allowed to hook up are being connected for free. He stated that there are residents in the area who are unable to pay their mortgages and he finds it hard to believe that they would be able to pay for connection to the system. Commissioner Pickrum commented that Mr. Pratt is making unfair accusations without facts. Mr. Morris stated that the current zoning will not allow any further connections other than what is their now. He reminded that these properties are proposed to be serviced because they are failing septic systems. He stated that it will be up to the property owners to make connection to the line once it is installed. Commissioner Crow commented that Mr. Prattís property was purchased with a denied access line next to it. Mr. Morris reminded that MDP is opposed to new growth in this area and the system is near capacity. He stated that the exception to connecting to the system is the failing septic systems that have been identified. He commented that the state determines the countyís abilities in this project. Commissioner Pickrum commented that the County is not opposed to Mr. Prattís property being provided the service, however, in this instance it is not up to the county. Commissioner Crow commented that if the County attempted to add additional properties without failing septic systems, the entire project could be denied.
Reverend Freeman expressed concerns related to homes beyond the proposed extension of the line being unable to connect. He stated that previously the county discussed possibility of having holding tanks pumped out for properties based on sewer rates to be paid to the county. He questioned why these properties could not still be permitted to have holding tanks pumped by the county, if they are unable to hook up to the line being extended. The Commissioners commented that this was one of the original proposals, however, the cost would be prohibitive to offer this service. Mr. Morris stated that there are many holding tanks in Kent County, and if one were serviced by the County, all of them would have to be serviced. He stated that that this issue could possibly be taken under consideration in the future. Commissioner Fithian commented that there will always be one more house and at some point projects become cost prohibitive.
Commissioner Fithian questioned whether Mr. Pratt would be able to build on his property if his property had percolation. Mr. Pratt is unable to hook up to the line because the size of the lines are inadequate, however, his property is located in the service area. Commissioner Fithian commented that he understands why Mr. Pratt is upset, because flow is being taken past him from 11-12 other areas. Mr. Morris stated that the 11 houses would not dramatically affect the pump. It was stated that Mr. Prattís property already has one additional allocation that could be used for an accessory dwelling (since allocation has not been used once the property was no longer used as a funeral home).
Maude Jones, who was in the audience, questioned whether it would be possible for someone to build beyond the end of the extending line in the future. It was stated that if there was percable property beyond the line, then building could take place, however, the line will not be extended any farther at this time. Mr. Morris recommended that Ms. Jones speak with John Beskid, Director, Environmental Health, regarding whether the properties beyond the extended line are percable.
Dorothy Cooper stated that she lives beyond the extended line and questioned what will be done regarding her failing system. Ms. Cooper is currently on a holding tank. Ms. Cooper questioned why her property was not considered in the proposal for extension of the line. It was stated that this property was not identified. The Commissioners will have further discussion regarding how to deal with properties beyond the identified properties.
Ms. Jones questioned whether the elderly residents in Edesville will be given assistance with their water and sewer bills. Commissioner Crow informed that the County provides dollars to the Department of Social Services which is used to provide assistance for water and sewer bills. Ms. Jones stated that she made application to the Department of Social Services for her father, however, was unable to receive any assistance. The Commissioners requested that contact be made with the Department of Social Services on this matter.
Commissioner Fithian questioned whether there are enough holding tanks in the county that the possibility could be examined that the county empty the tanks and charged fees to the property owners. Mr. Morris agreed to follow up on this suggestion. Mr. Morris stated that it would require a two person crew to complete this task and legal issues would need to be examined.
This hearing was taped for reference and adjourned at 11:07 a.m.
Janice F. Fletcher
Roy W. Crow, President