Dear Council Members:
No doubt you would want to see evidence substantiating one particularly important point that has been raised time and again, that R281 was originally adopted based on a misunderstanding, purposeful or otherwise, of Lakeside’s approval history leading up to that 2020 review. One ought not assume you’ve seen this material before.
(If you saw the Spy piece last week recapping four reasons the Reset Resolution should be adopted (here), this email deals just with the second bullet—the false basis for adoption of R281.)
In 2020 the Planning Commission, the Council, and everyone else came to believe that Lakeside had been fully approved long ago—certainly by 2006 when it had gotten MDE sewer construction permits. Without County approval as “immediate priority,” MDE is not permitted to issue construction permits. But MDE did issue permits back then, falsely leading the Planning Commission and others to believe that everything germane to Lakeside outside of sewer arrangements had been reviewed and approved long ago.
This point comes through clearly in a reading of the entire record of CC and PC meeting transcripts—but no one expects you to do that. What I have attached are several pages of excerpts from the transcripts that reveal the depth of the misunderstanding, and how it came to be. (I pulled these excerpts over a year ago in preparation for the presentation I made to the former Council.)
Contrast the excerpts, and the clear implication of each point, with these facts:
- Lakeside had never before been presented to the Talbot County Planning Commission for review of any sort, much less a finding of that some earlier CWSP amendment was consistent with the Comp Plan.
- Lakeside had been REJECTED 5-0 by the County Council the one and only time an earlier Lakeside CWSP amendment came up (2004).
- MDE may have issued sewer construction permits in 2005 and 2006, but they did so in spite of the fact that the County had refused to designate the project “immediate priority,” a violation of the Environment Article 9-511.
- Hearsay aside, no actual evidence was ever presented by anyone that MDE had, on its own authority because of the passage of time, reclassified Lakeside from “S-2” to “S-1, immediate priority”…because MDE has no such authority under Maryland law.
- The idea, asserted via hearsay by various parties, that MDE “considered” or “interpreted” of “felt” Lakeside to be “S-1 immediate priority,” completely undermined the County’s review of all of the issues central to our Comp Plan! THIS IS A LAND USE DECISION, AND ONLY THE COUNTY CAN MAKE THAT DECISION.
Here are just four of many quotes attached; they come directly from the transcripts and capture the impact of the misunderstanding or falsity on which the entire approval of R281 was based. They show why, to this day, the Talbot County has never discussed Lakeside’s impact on schools, or traffic, or taxes—and the 2020 review pertained to nothing but sewerage.
Mr. Showalter (the developer’s attorney): “MDE has issued construction and discharge permits for this project previously. And MDE believes this project is essentially S-1/W-1 today and that an amendment is not necessary to the County Plan.”
- Commissioner Spies: “Well, so it’s still you opinion that this process here today is not actually necessary but it’s something that you’re going through because its proper channels for the County?”
- Mr. Showalter: “That’s correct.”
- Mr. Showalter: “MDE considers it S-1/W-1. MDE has issued construction discharge permits for this project before. So, if you do nothing or if the County rejects this amendment, the project will go forward with the 540,000-gallon wastewater treatment plant, the spray area in the location it’s been previously approved, but you County Plan to permit it to occur at BNR levels [a low treatment standard].”
- Commissioner Spies: “I am voting on whether moving this property that’s already been approved and a previous Board of [Planning] Commissioners believed that it met that standard—and it passed way before my time on the [Planning Commission].”
Please evaluate all of the excepts attached as a totality, and we believe you will see that the 2020 review of Lakeside was incurably flawed. That fact, added to other fundamental problems noted previously in public discourse and the formal record both, support adoption of the proposed resolution to “reset Lakeside”. I hope you will find this additional information helpful.
The Talbot Integrity Project
Dan Watson, Acting Chair