Public Hearings - Comprehensive Water and Sewer Plan Amendment- Dray

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PUBLIC HEARING - September 4, 2007

Comprehensive Water and Sewer Plan Amendment- Dray

September 4, 2007

A Public Hearing was held today at 10:05 a.m. in the County Commissioners’ Hearing Room, County Government Center, Chestertown, Maryland. The purpose of the hearing was in response to application received from John Petro, Managing Member, representing Drayton LLC, to amend the Comprehensive Water and Sewerage Plan to request a denied access line for public water and sewer service from the Worton Service area to 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 connect to the Worton Wastewater Treatment Facility after completion of the plant upgrade. The upgraded plant will have sufficient capacity for sewerage design flows of approximately 29,800 gpd. Connection of the project to the Worton Wastewater Treatment Facility will be accomplished using a denied or restricted access line. The developer also proposes to construct an elevated water storage tank on site for additional fire protection in the area. All improvements will be constructed at the expense of the developer. The water and sewer lines are proposed to be installed in the Cooper’s Lane right of way. The water main along Cooper’s Lane will include fire hydrants.

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, Amy Moredock, Environmental Planner, and Jim Wright, County Engineer. There were also approximately 20 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.

Mr. Saunders provided opening remarks. He informed that the request for extension of services from the Worton Wastewater Treatment Plant to Drayton is in response to meetings and public hearings with the Critical Area Commission (CAC) and comments received from the CAC Panel. He stated that people in the neighborhoods surrounding Drayton Manor have expressed concerns about the water and sewer system proposed for the project. As a result of concerns expressed, members of the CAC panel urged the developer to explore the possibility of bringing public sewer and water to the project. In response to the CAC request, the Commissioners were contacted with a request for an amendment to the sewer and water plan. Mr. Saunders stated that the extension of this system will eliminate concerns for onsite drip irrigation disposal. In addition to removing concerns about the system, the new proposal would bring added fire protection to the area contributable to hydrants being placed along the water line of Coopers Lane. The financial responsibility of this proposal will be with the developer and would not require state or county funds. Mr. Saunders noted that this proposal could be a restricted or denied access proposal. The decision on this would be made at the time of the public works agreement. The issue of the type of access should be determined based on the wishes and concerns of others in the neighborhood.

The opposition refrained from providing opening statements.

Commissioner Crow questioned how many allocations would be needed for the system. He stated that based on his calculations of 119, the system would be eligible to become a public system. Mr. Saunders stated that this amount would be a peak demand request and would not be the amount that the project would utilize on the busiest day of the year and not on a daily basis. Mr. Morris stated that the actual amount would be based on the average daily flow and the peak flow. Typically when engineering plans are put together, a flow calculation is completed based on the type of establishment and its needs. Mr. Morris would then review these calculations and determine if they are consistent with state guidelines. If there is a discrepancy, Mr. Morris returns to the engineer for clarification.

Commissioner Crow questioned the amount of homes located in the Coopers Lane area. Jerry Smith informed that there are approximately 200 homes in the area.

Testimony was received from the following:

Leona Van Dyke of Still Pond Creek Road expressed many concerns relating to costs associated with the proposed system and potential costs to county tax payers. She also expressed concerns relating to the costs the county would have to contribute for the installation of the extended sewer line. She stated that the present proposal for Drayton Manor is far different from Drayton Manor’s original use. She questioned the legality of the proposed water and sewer connection and whether or not it is in compliance with the land conservancy easement. She urged the Commissioners to deny this application.

John Caldwell of Kinniard’s Point Road expressed concerns that the project continues to grow in size and he feels the size, scope, and scale are too large for the area. He stated that the developer has continually requested exceptions for the project from the county. He feels it would be a big mistake to approve this application.

Betty Spence of Airy Hill Road, Chestertown, expressed concern that allowing the developer to fund the costs for expanded water and sewer services will set a precedent for future developers who wish to develop in sensitive areas of the county. She expressed concern that the developer has yet to provide the maximum number of day visitors and overnight guests to be served by the establishment.

Jerry Smith of Coopers Lane expressed belief that in most developing communities, the majority of home owners prefer effective and efficient storm water management systems. He stated that although the costs of the system would be paid by Drayton LLC, the benefits would be reaped by Drayton Manor as well. He also noted that the Worton/Butlertown wastewater treatment plant would be deprived of allocations to control smart growth in the area and that it would be setting a precedent to provide for a new service area with the absence of public health emergencies. He feels that a thorough study should be conducted with costs to be borne by the developer. He also noted that this application for amendment only addressed one of the eight concerns submitted by the CAC. To keep in compliance with the Comprehensive Plan, he requested that this application be denied.

Robin Abel expressed concerns as to the reasoning for increased capacity amounts for Drayton Manor. She stated that if the significant changes have been made to the preliminary project, the project should have been sent back to square one for new approvals.

Ray Lokay stated that the project began as minor expansion and has grown without a clear definition as to what is really being approved. He stated that adequate information has not been provided for decision making. He stated that based on the comprehensive plan the intent of the wastewater treatment plant is for the use of the village and not for an extension into the countryside. He stated that the county should not be so accommodating to the developer when adequate information for decision making has not been received.

Mr. Morris clarified that after approval from the county, approval would still have to be obtained from the Maryland Department of the Environment. An agreement would also have to be made with the DRA that would clarify the developer’s responsibilities and the county’s responsibilities. He added that the amendment is the first step in a long process that will have to be completed.

Mr. Smith expressed concerns as to whether a feasibility study needs to be completed before the project can proceed to the MDE. Mr. Morris informed that the study has been completed up to a certain point. He stated that a full engineering study will have to be completed at a later time once responsibilities have been determined. Mr. Smith questioned who would be responsible for costs associated with the study. Mr. Yeager stated that it is his understanding that the developer would be responsible for these costs.

Phillip Dutton of Cliff Drive expressed concerns as to who defends the Comprehensive Plan. Commissioner Crow informed that the plan is a guide as to how the county wishes to vision itself in the future. Mr. Yeager noted that the comprehensive plan is amended and revised over time.

Mr. Saunders provided closing statements. He stated that the Comprehensive Plan defines the Coopers Lane area as a neighborhood development area and not a countryside area. This area would qualify for the extension of sewer and water services. He stated that because an area is not qualified as a Priority Funding Area (PFA), it does not mean that it is immune to development. He stated that if the county only allows job creating development in PFAs, the type of tourism development that would be desired by the county would never be achieved. Mr. Saunders added that the water and sewer amendment is a prerequisite for the entire process. Any further plans and negotiating with the MDE will be stalled if the amendment is not approved and amended to accommodate this project. He added that the developers are having a stormwater management engineering study conducted because it was requested by the CAC, not because it was needed. He stated that there has been plenty of study and design work completed for this project.

Commissioner Crow questioned whether 119 allocations would be needed for Drayton Manor. Mr. Morris clarified that the EDU’s needed for this type of establishment differs from those that may be needed for a residential establishment. He stated that the engineer would determine what these EDU’s would be used for.

This hearing was taped for reference and adjourned at 10:50 a.m.

The Commissioners will accept comments on this proposed amendment up to September 14, 2007 at 12:00 noon.


Janice F. Fletcher
Executive Assistant
Approved: Roy W. Crow, President