August 26, 2003

Denton, Maryland

 

 

As previously announced and advertised, the County Commissioners of Caroline County, Maryland, convened their regular meeting at the Federalsburg Volunteer Fire Company Hall, Federalsburg, Maryland, to provide citizens an “open mike” opportunity to address questions and concerns.

 

At 7 p.m., the County Commissioners convened as Roads Board with prayer by Rev. Ron Bell, St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, Denton, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

 

The Commissioners adjourned as Roads Board at 7:30 p.m. (See Roads Board Minutes.)

 

The regularly scheduled meeting of the County Commissioners of Caroline County, Maryland, convened at 7:30 p.m.

 

Attending:

John W. Cole, President

Roger L. Layton, Vice President

Mario J. Gangemi, Member

Charles C. Cawley, County Administrator

                                       

On motion by Mr. Layton, the minutes of August 19, 2003 were unanimously approved.  Vouchers #73206 - #73310 were unanimously approved for payment.

 

On individual motions by Mr. Gangemi, the Commissioners unanimously approved and President Cole signed the following purchase orders:

 

#32375 - $2,533.30 – Caroline Center – clean up services for various parks and the Caroline County Health and Public Services Building;

 

#32379 - $3,468 – Caroline County Board of Education – summer food program meals at Federalsburg Elementary School (100% reimbursable through MSDE grant funds); and

 

#32705 - $26,569.99 – Maryland Environmental Service – 559.40 tons of refuse hauled to the Mid-Shore Regional Landfill in July 2003.

 

On motion by Mr. Gangemi, the Commissioners signed a contingency account expenditure authorization in the amount of $13,026.69 ($6,547.46 FY 2003 and $6,479.23 in FY 2004) to Coldmaster Refrigeration Service, Inc. for repairs to the heating/cooling unit at the Caroline County Detention Center due to lightning damage; and signed purchase order #32802 in that amount.

 

On motion by Mr. Gangemi, the Commissioners unanimously accepted the sole bid of Tri-Gas and Oil Company, Inc., Federalsburg, Maryland, in the amount of $216,289.30, project #CC-GD-081103, annual supply of fuels, for the period September 1, 2003 through August 31, 2004; and signed purchase order #32701 in that amount.  The bid was received just past the deadline for bid submittal, but since it was the sole bid received, and for this particular bid project only, the Commissioners by unanimous consent waived the requirement that late bids be returned to the bidder.

 

On motion by Mr. Gangemi, the Commissioners unanimously approved solicitation of bids for the replacement of Anthony Mill Bridge, Anthony Mill Road, project #CC-AM-100603.

 

On motion by Mr. Gangemi, the Commissioners unanimously approved and President Cole signed the Health Benefits Pool Funding Agreement with Local Government Insurance Trust (LGIT), in acceptance of an alternative payment option for Caroline County’s payment of the Trust’s Health Benefits Pool deficit from FY 2001 and FY 2002 over the next two years, with half ($172,924) being remitted prior to July 31, 2003 and the remaining balance ($172,924) being deferred and remitted prior to July 31, 2004, as requested by the County Commissioners.

 

On motion by Mr. Gangemi, the Commissioners unanimously approved and signed a letter of engagement with Murphy & Murphy, CPA, LLC, to provide an audit of the general purpose financial statements of Caroline County for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2003, in an amount not to exceed $40,000, in accordance with the financial reporting model in effect prior to that described in GASB Statement No 34.

 

The Commissioners, on motion by Mr. Gangemi, unanimously approved and President Cole signed Round 1 housing rehabilitation grant awards as presented by Diane Ewing, Caroline County housing rehabilitation coordinator, last week.  All applicants must qualify as low income, and if they sell the property within 5 years, they have to pay the grant back.  The maximum individual grant available is about $15,000 under the current state grant allocation.

 

On motion by Mr. Gangemi, the Commissioners unanimously approved and President Cole signed letters of representation with Hertzbach & Company, certified public accountants, Owings Mills, Maryland, to perform an audit of Dayspring I Townhomes and Dayspring II Townhomes, Ridgely, Maryland, affordable housing owned by the County, for the year ending June 30, 2003.

 

On motion by Mr. Layton, the Commissioners authorized Mr. Cawley, pension plan administrator, to sign Administrative Pension Resolution #2003-005 authorizing a lump sum pension distribution to a former County employee who recently resigned.

 

At the request of County Treasurer Dorsey Wooters, and on motion by Mr. Gangemi, the Commissioners unanimously authorized proceeding with the mail out of the remaining Caroline County real property FY 2004 tax bills for properties within municipal boundaries, which bills contain the same tax rate as the previous fiscal year, which had been deferred by the Commissioners on June 23, 2003 due to the uncertainty of the status of the municipal tax differential referendum petition.

 

The Commissioners, on motion by Mr. Gangemi, unanimously approved, contingent upon Talbot County’s support (Queen Anne’s County has already approved) to grant the supplemental funding request of Upper Shore Aging, Inc., in the amount of $2,877.67 from each of the participating counties (Caroline, Talbot and Queen Anne’s), for the USTAR transportation program, in order to fund the local match shortfall of $8,633 for the various grants that support the USTAR public transit operations in the current year. 

 

At 7:55 p.m., the Commissioners opened their meeting to the public for the purpose of hearing questions and concerns from citizens.  The Commissioners called for public comments and questions from those who had signed up to speak on an issue other than the proposed trash transfer station in Federalsburg or solid waste, of which only one person had signed to speak; a summary of which follows:

 

Betty Ballas, Mayor, Town of Federalsburg – The Town of Federalsburg has received $30,000 in Federal funds for Phase IV of the Marshyhope Greenway Trail, but needs and has requested $30,000 in Program Open Space funds from the County so its completion does not have to be deferred.  Design work and the bid package for the final phase of the project have been prepared, however, without the funding the project will not be completed.

 

Betsey Krempasky, County planner, at the request of the Commissioners, provided an update regarding the status of the proposed trash transfer station, on a parcel of land on Wright Road, Federalsburg.   Ms. Krempasky stated that on July 22, 2003, the Commissioners adopted Ordinance #2003-002, which places a nine-month moratorium on solid waste transfer stations and sanitary landfills.  The  moratorium will allow the County to:  (1) update the Caroline County Zoning Ordinance; and (2) update the Caroline County Solid Waste Management Plan.    Ms. Krempasky stated that a site plan and subdivision plat was submitted to the Caroline County Department of Planning and Codes Administration on the proposed trash transfer project in July 2003, however those plans were returned to the applicant in accordance with the provisions of the moratorium, therefore, to date, there are no pending applications for a trash transfer station.  She explained that since the last County zoning ordinance update in 1998, the appellate courts have given direction regarding scope and criteria on this subject, and on redefining respective state and county authority, and that appellate court decisions typically raise more questions than they answer.  Caroline County is one of four Counties subject to a partnership agreement on the subject of solid waste, and is scheduled to host the next regional landfill in 2011, which is proposed to be located at the Old Holly Road landfill site, which must be taken into consideration as new language is drafted.  President Cole stated that the August 12, 2003 issue of the Daily Record Risk Management, Virginia, described a situation in which a federal court struck down a movement regarding solid waste on the basis of the U. S. Constitutional provision of interstate commerce.  President Cole reminded those in attendance that the Commissioners have to be “particularly cautious” and not be too restrictive, as federal law states that we cannot restrict interstate commerce.   President Cole asked that County staff and department heads  remain to address additional public questions or concerns.  Charles Cawley, County administrator, introduced County staff and department heads present:  Jim McCormick, Office of Technology; Robert Schoonover, Department of Emergency Medical Services; Sheriff Phillip Brown; Bryan Ebling, Department of Emergency Management; Patti Eigenbrode, Office of Human Resources; Barbara Spicher, Office of Finance; Dorsey Wooters, Office of the County Treasurer; Leigh Sands, Office of the County Commissioners; Betsey Krempasky, Department of Planning and Codes Administration; Charles Emerson, Department of Public Works; Vivian Anders, Office of the County Commissioners; Rick Weber, Department of Recreation and Parks; Harry Cole, Department of Public Works; Ray Arnie, sign shop, Department of Public Works; Lori Schmick, Department of Planning and Codes Administration; and Charles Andrew, Department of Corrections.   President Cole called for public comment and questions of those who had signed to speak on the issue of solid waste, a summary of which follows:

 

Carol Allin, Meadowbrook Park, Federalsburg – Inquired as to the process of annexation and asked if annexations go before the County Commissioners or the Town and after that, what happens?

 

Betsey Krempasky stated that hearings for property to be annexed are held by the Town, however, the County must give its express approval otherwise the property cannot be rezoned for five years.  She explained that the County’s role is limited in annexations, however, trash transfer statutes require express approval by the County, but a State permit must also be obtained.

 

William R. Bone, Liberty Church Road – Inquired as to whether or not trash is going to be brought in from New Jersey and New York.  Expressed concern that it took approximately 13 years to get his road tarred and chipped and if the trucks are permitted to pass down that road, it will tear it up on only nine months.  Expressed concern that trash draws rats, pollution and odors 24 hours a day and does not want that in his back yard.  Stated that he drove a truck for 38 years and that truck drivers do not sleep, but go back and get another load to haul.

 

President Cole expressed concern that incorrect information has been spread among the community and correcting it is the purpose of tonight’s meeting.  He further reiterated that Commissioners’ opposition to a proposed trash transfer station.  President Cole stated that the Commissioners enacted a nine-month moratorium on solid waste issues in order to address the situation.  Mr. Layton stated that the Commissioners are sympathetic to the concerns and that he is not in favor of a proposed trash transfer station.  Mr. Layton expressed concern that someone has spread incorrect information, which has led to getting everyone upset.   

 

President Cole called for additional comments and questions, a summary of which follows:

 

Israel Nosman – Inquired as to the impact on property values and if it would make real property taxes go down.

 

Mr. Gangemi advised that the Commissioners do not assess property values.  President Cole opined that a trash transfer station in a community would increase the difficulty in selling a property.

 

Bob Woolford, Bridge Lane – Stated he has lived in the area for four years and was originally from Pasadena, Maryland and watched the same thing happen there to the great detriment of the community, basically because no one would do anything about it.  Urged the Commissioners to “draw a line” on what can happen in this county so that it will stay rural and beautiful.  Stated that he realizes that the County must deal with trash, but Caroline County should deal with Caroline County trash and not trash from New York City.  Suggested that the Commissioners form an alliance with other counties in order to address this issue.  Stated that, “this (transfer station)would be a disaster.”

 

President Cole stated that the Maryland Environmental Service, Waste Management Division, operates the Mid Shore Regional Landfill, which handles all trash in this region, therefore, there is no necessity for a trash transfer station in Caroline County.  Mr. Cawley stated that the County has dealt with the issue of solid waste in the past and approximately 12 years ago, formed a tri-county coalition of Caroline, Talbot and Queen Anne’s Counties (and now Kent County), the result of which was the Regional Landfill.  Mr. Cawley explained that the Regional Landfill is owned by the Counties and operated by Waste Management and handles the trash from those four counties and essentially pays for itself.  Mr. Cawley expressed concern that a proposed private trash transfer station not only is a threat to the community, but also to the financial operation of the Regional Landfill.  Mr. Gangemi reiterated the Commissioners’ desire to make every effort to oppose such a project and stated that the County is opposed to it as well as the Town of Federalsburg.

 

Betty Ballas, Mayor, Town of Federalsburg – Reiterated that the Town of Federalsburg is against a proposed trash transfer station and apologized to the County for not involving the County in the situation sooner.  Stated that the Town Council voted down the proposed project in October 2002 and if an annexation is filed the Town would have to hold a public annexation hearing, however, the Town Council took a straw poll vote against such a project.  Stated that the proposed property would instead make a nice, upscale housing project.  Stated that even though the Town of Federalsburg and County are opposed to the transfer station, citizens must stay aware of the possibility of a project somewhere in the county in the future.  Stated that she hopes that the County, Town and citizens can continue to work together against this.

 

Bill Youngmeyer, Meadowbrook Park, Federalsburg – Have lived in Federalsburg for 35 years and was originally from Anne Arundel County, where there are trash transfer stations and because of that, cannot grow anything. 

 

A citizen in the audience inquired as to where Senator Colburn was for tonight’s meeting and felt that Senator Colburn was responsible for instigating the proposed project, and got the “ball rolling” on this project. 

 

Mayor Ballas responded stating that Senator Colburn did not “get the ball rolling,” but rather the prospective buyer came to the Mayor and Council regarding the project.  Clarified that Senator Colburn performs in a managerial position and an advisory position for the Town and that he has not swayed the Town Council nor had an influence in the decision.  Reiterated that the Town is against it and stated, “it is not fair to blame Senator Colburn as he does not get a vote.”

 

Another citizen in the audience inquired as to who was the instigator and why did they choose this area and that the situation has a lot of gray areas.

 

Bruce Willoughby, citizen - Responded to the inquiry stating that he feels that everyone is in agreement on how catastrophic the project would be to the area.  He stated that he spoke with Mr. Gorsky, the attorney for the prospective buyer, and that the company interested in locating in Caroline County is a very large business who has done a study of the peninsula, which study indicated that Caroline County is a prime area in order to make a profit on solid waste.    Stated that the proposed project is a business venture and that the company has the money to push for it.  Stated that no one wants the transfer station, however, depending on what happens during the nine-month moratorium, “it may be to no avail.”   He stated that it depended on the County and Town to either prevent or control it, because the biggest impact will be on the residents of Meadowbrook.  Suggested a coalition be formed of those homeowners in order to stay abreast of the situation.   Stated that the company is interested in using the rail service in Federalsburg as the most economical means to transport the waste.  Expressed concern that the company also wanted to dispose of the leachate, which is the liquid expelled from compacting the trash, into the town water system.  He stated that it is known that leachate eats through stainless steel, and could you imagine leachate getting into the Town wastewater treatment system.

 

President Cole concurred with rallying support and forces regarding the issue as the impact will also be on the quality of life, which will not be an enhancement in Caroline County.  Expressed concern that trash from the trucks will fall onto the roadways in the County as well. 

 

A citizen from the audience inquired as to whether the company has purchased the proposed land and if “it is a done deal.”

 

Mayor Ballas responded that the proposed land has not been sold as there are some problems with the title.  Stated that the Town of Federalsburg has attempted to ascertain if an agreement between the property owner and the prospective buyer exists, but to no avail.  Stated that if an annexation has not been applied for, then the Town has no legal right to investigate the situation.  Stated, in answer to an inquiry from the public, that the previous owner of the land was Dave Faulkner.

 

A citizen from the audience inquired as to how critical is it for the proposed project to be near the rail system.

 

Mr. Layton responded that he feels that the company was using the issue of the rail system to make it appear that the proposed project would revitalize the railroad, but in actuality, there will be a lot of trucks and mostly trucking used in transporting of the trash.  Mayor Ballas stated that the trash would be trucked in and railed out after being compacted according to the proposal.  Mr. Cawley explained that the trash at the Mid-Shore Regional Landfill is hauled to Virginia, however, there is an agreement to haul some of the trash to local landfills, which generates revenue for those local jurisdictions.  Mr. Cawley stated that he is unsure as to how this trash would be disposed.

 

A citizen from the audience inquired as to what is the value of the proposed property and does the County have the power to condemn that property in order to negate the proposed project.

 

President Cole stated that a court would not support a condemnation under those grounds.

 

A citizen from the audience inquired as to if the proposed property could be used as a sports complex and what kind of trash containers are used.

 

President Cole responded stating that the County Commissioners have not been to the site.  Charles Emerson, director of public works, stated that most trash is bulk, compacted and bailed and those bails are then loaded onto a truck to be transported.  He further explained that most of the liquid or juices that are expelled in the compacting and bailing process are left at the transfer site.  He stated that the bails are stacked at the landfill to await transport.

 

A citizen from the audience inquired as to what will be the benefit to the State of Maryland and that the State should be fighting the issue especially due to the fact that if Caroline County has too much trash, then Caroline County shouldn’t accept trash from other states or jurisdictions.

 

President Cole stated that most of the trash in Caroline County is hauled to Virginia or Pennsylvania and that the State of Maryland exports trash.  Stated that he received a letter from Congressman Gilchrest on the issue of solid waste and is sponsoring an essay opportunity entitled,  “The earth around us – What else my neighbor should know.”  President Cole stated that tonight’s meeting points out “what we don’t know, which is more than what we do know.” 

 

Scott Phillips, member, Federalsburg Town Council – Inquired as to the County’s Comprehensive Plan and if that document will be enough to keep the project out of the County.

 

President Cole reiterated the nine-month moratorium will not allow solid waste activity during that time.  Betsey Krempasky stated the provisions regarding solid waste are a unique set of circumstances and that the County does not want to “put a loop around their ankles,” therefore the nine-month moratorium is needed to address the issues. 

 

A citizen from the audience inquired as to whether the liquid could be disposed of somewhere other than in the town water system.

 

Mayor Ballas stated that if the Town of Federalsburg does not approve an annexation, then they cannot use the water system.  Ms. Krempasky stated that the company could meet State criteria to install a discharge station on the property or dispose of it somewhere else, however, the permit is obtained from the State and that water quality issues are preempted and therefore fall under the auspices of State regulations.

 

Joseph Edwine, citizen – Stated that a town in New Jersey agreed approximately a year ago to dispose of leachate into their water system, which now is costing that town a lot of money to fix the problems that it has caused.  Expressed concern that the accident rates on the roadways were significantly increased in Pennsylvania related to their reputation as a trash state.  Expressed concern that a trash transfer station in this area will create more injuries, police and emergency calls and more problems in general.

 

President Cole called for additional questions or comments from citizens; there being none, Mr. Gangemi stated that he hopes that the citizens realize where the Commissioners stand on this issue and are supportive of the concerns of the citizens.  Mr. Layton stated that the Commissioners are opposed and reminded citizens not to react to false information and to try to obtain the correct information before it is relayed to someone else.  President Cole stated that the Commissioners are trying to develop a plan to bring about the best result. 

 

Bruce Willoughby – Stated he feels that tonight’s meeting puts to rest a lot of the misinformation that has been spread.  Feels that the County, Town and public and possibly the State should pull together to deal with the problem.    Stated that the issue was “snuck in the backdoor,” and hopes that all can work together to keep trash transfer stations out of the county.

 

There being no further business, the meeting of the County Commissioners was adjourned at 9:15 p.m.

 

 

 

Vivian L. Anders

County Commissioners Deputy Clerk