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PUBLIC HEARING - August 3, 2010


August 3, 2010

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 County Water and Sewerage Plan to include the Galena Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrade project; to include a proposed feasibility study to investigate possible alternatives to serve the Still Pond/Coleman area with Water and Sewer Service; and to revise the County’s sewer allocation policy.

The Town of Galena proposes to upgrade treatment for 80,000 GPD capable of enhanced nutrient removal. The County Commissioners are considering authorizing a feasibility study, based upon the results of a sanitary survey currently being conducted by the Health Department, to investigate possible alternatives to serve the Still Pond/Coleman area, a problem area, with water and sewer including possible connection to the Town of Betterton’s water and sewer treatment facilities. The County Commissioners also propose to revise the existing sewer allocation policy to require developers to provide payment upfront for allocations eliminating deferred payment of allocation fees.

County Commissioners Ronald Fithian, and William Pickrum, were in attendance as well as Susanne Hayman, County Administrator, Gail Owings, Director of Planning, Tom Bass, Galena Town Manager, and Peter Bourne, Town of Galena Engineer, approximately fifteen interested persons and three members of the media.

Commissioner Pickrum read the Notice of Public Hearing into the record.

Part 1: Galena Wastewater Treatment Facility upgrade

Mr. Bass informed that the Town of Galena applied for a grant in January from Rural Development in the amount of $1,586,000 in order to upgrade the Galena Wastewater Treatment Facility. In May a notice was received that the application did not meet the qualifications for funding because the project was not part of the County’s Water and Sewerage Plan. The Galena facility is being upgraded in order to comply with State permits with regards to nitrogen, ammonia and phosphorous. The funding applied for will be 70% loan and 30% grant, and is required to be submitted by August 6. Mr. Morris commented that the sewer plan is being amended to incorporate what Galena is proposing. He continued that although the Town’s have always been required to amend the Comprehensive Water and Sewer plans, the State has recently begun to strictly enforce this requirement. Unless the upgrade project is in the Comprehensive Water and Sewerage Plan, the State will not provide funding.

John Vail questioned the loan and grant amounts for the funding. Mr. Bass responded that the loan amount would be $1,110,000, and the grant amount would be $476,000 for a 40 year term. He suggested that the Town work with the County in the future to provide service to those areas with failing septic systems that surround Galena, i.e. Greg Neck.

In response to question raised by Commissioner Fithian, Mr. Morris advised that there is a public comment period for this amendment which will end on August 6. In light of the August 6 deadline for submittal of Galena’s application, Mr. Morris will contact Rural Development and explain that final approval of the water and sewer plan amendment cannot be given by the Commissioners until after the comment period. Mr. Morris does not anticipate that this will be a problem.

Part 2: Authorization for conduction of a Still Pond/ Coleman Feasibility Study

The Commissioners advised that the public hearing is to authorize the completion of a feasibility study, and not to review the results of the study. Mr. Morris reiterated that the State has been heavily enforcing amendments to the Water and Sewer Plans. He stated that the public hearing will allow the authorization for a feasibility study to be documented in the Comprehensive Water and Sewerage plan. Once a sanitary survey of the area has been complete, the Commissioners can make a determination as to whether they would like to move forward with a feasibility study. If the Commissioners decide to move forth with the feasibility study, design, cost and outlay of a system will then be discussed.

In response to question raised by Walter Bowie, Mr. Morris advised that the public hearings are being held together because they are all amendments to the Water and Sewer Plan. Mr. Bowie questioned the purpose being served by this project. Commissioner Pickrum responded that the completion of a feasibility study could identify potential problems in the area.

In response to question raised, Graham Ero was advised that a sanitary survey is different than a feasibility study. He was advised that John Beskid, Environmental Health Director, plans to present the results of the sanitary survey on August 10 at 9:00 a.m.

In response to question raised by Mr. Vail, Mr. Morris advised that although Still Pond/Coleman have been included in the Water and Sewerage Plan for several years, the severity of any sanitary problems has never been identified. In order for the County to qualify for any funding for a potential project, the area has to be identified in the water and sewerage plan as having a feasibility study conducted in order to assess the severity of any problems.

Paula Ruckelshaus questioned why the feasibility study is being discussed at this stage, when the results of the sanitary survey, which is supposed to determine if the feasibility study is needed, have not been presented. Mr. Morris stated that placing this in the plan now provides documentation so that a project could move forward in the future if need be.

In response to question raised by Anita Williams, Mr. Morris advised that sewer is the primary factor which would be addressed; however, water could also be addressed.

Tom Hollidge expressed his belief that if the Town of Betterton were not in need of a new Treatment plant, service to Still Pond/Coleman would not be a topic. Commissioner Fithian stated that if the County were to ignore any problems that Still Pond/ Coleman may have and not

allow them to take advantage of Betterton’s capacity knowing that Betterton plans to upgrade their system, the County would likely be seen at fault.

In response to question raised by Craig O’Donnell, Mr. Morris informed that the cost for a feasibility study could range from $15,000- $25,000.

Bill Short questioned the percentage of failed systems needed in order to move forward with a corrective action. Mr. Morris stated that there are many factors in addition to the percentage of failures that would factor into a potential project.

In response to question raised by Mr. Bowie, Mr. Morris advised that he believes that Mr. Beskid counted vacant lots within Still Pond and Coleman in his survey.

Commissioner Pickrum commented that a feasibility study does not guarantee that a project will surface. He added that it also does not guarantee that connections would be made to the Betterton system, rather than a stand alone system.

Mr. Short questioned if the State could potentially mandate a corrective project once the language has been added to the Water and Sewerage plan. Mr. Morris responded that if there are health issues in these areas, there is the potential for the State to intervene.

Part 3: Proposal to revise Allocation Policy

Mr. Morris advised that currently developers requesting over 5,000 gallons are allowed a deferred payment option. That language has now been removed so that everyone is under the same policy. However, developers are permitted to only pay for the number of allocations they wish to use at a given time. In example: someone who wishes to develop a ten lot subdivision can purchase only two allocations at a time and phase in their project if they desire.

This hearing was taped for reference and adjourned at 10:23 a.m.

Written comments will be received until August 6, 2010 until 12:00 p.m.

Denisha C. Brown
Office Manager/Clerk
William W. Pickrum, Member