Our County Council discusses Lakeside issues regularly, and at one meeting we were advised that attending Trappe Town Council meetings could increase our understanding of Lakeside issues.
To that end, the town and the developer have been well represented. We might also keep the requirements of the Clean Water Act and our Comprehensive Plan in mind. Our Comprehensive Water and Sewer Plan requires connecting new properties to “the most current state standard,” and 67 wastewater treatment plants across Maryland are currently being upgraded to ENR (Enhanced Nutrient Removal).
The following is public record. Videos of County Council meetings are available here.
Resolutions considered at the County Council’s April 26 meeting were revisions to our Comprehensive Water and Sewer Plan. Twelve were approved unanimously; one was put on hold for further consideration. We can look forward to sewers being extended throughout the Bay Hundred, and Tilghman’s wastewater treatment will be connected to St. Michaels.
The evening was proceeding smoothly. Then Resolution 327 requiring ENR wastewater treatment standards before up to 120 additional homes could be connected to Trappe’s underperforming wastewater treatment plant was introduced. (Capacity is not a problem, but Trappe’s Biolac plant does a poor job of processing nitrogen. Only a particulate form of nitrogen can be removed through solids separation.)
County Engineer Ray Clarke reported that the Public Advisory Board had made no recommendation. He would later explain that they were “just done.”
Planning Officer Miguel Salinas then reported that the Planning Commission found Resolution 327 consistent with the Comprehensive Plan, but wanted language added clarifying that ENR standards would also be applicable to any additional connections to the wastewater treatment plant.
Councilmember Laura Price was disappointed that the Public Advisory Board had not voted and requested holding the resolution open for reconsideration.
Councilmember Corey Pack responded, ”No problem. I won’t be supporting it whether it comes before the Council today or tomorrow.”
“I’m with Mr. Pack. Has this been addressed to the town of Trappe? I would like to know how this affects their bottom line,” Councilmember Frank Divilio added.
Price responded, “This isn’t about money. It’s about doing the right thing for the environment.” She then addressed Ryan Showalter, attorney for the developer’s trust, and expressed disappointment for his failure to put terms for the construction of Lakeside’s spray wastewater plant in writing, as requested months ago.
Pack offered, “In the Comprehensive Water and Sewer Plan it doesn’t say ENR. You can connect to an ENR, a Biolac, or a lagoon system, as long as it passes muster. Nothing says it can connect just to an ENR system.” (ENR is the “most current state standard.”)
Divilio wanted to see some modular units. No one seemed to know much about them, but Clarke suggested they are small systems on trailers or trucks that discharge into manholes. (Onsite, add-on, and decentralized, solutions are available for inspection online. Not a trailer in sight, but one could surely be found. And what about hauling?)
Divilio suggested withdrawing the resolution, and Price responded, “I’m not withdrawing.”
Showalter offered, “If there were such a simple modular system, Tilghman would have been using it by now.” He also doubted that such a system exists, but saved the day by admitting he’s not an engineer.
He went on to suggest that putting clean water in a manhole would mess with Trappe’s system. (He should know about this. That is precisely the point that Dan Watson’s wastewater treatment witness made regarding the rainwater flowing into Trappe’s system.)
Showalter then suggested that a “hundred homes” on Tilghman are connecting to an underperforming wastewater treatment plant and still receiving permits.
Price reminded him of the difference between 3 or 4 homes and hundreds by describing them as “apples and oranges.” Those “hundred” homes were built nearly two decades ago. A few lots are still available, perhaps as many as 15.
Reminded then of lack of public support for Lakeside, Callahan was “done with this.” And, anyway, they were “way over time.”
But Pack interjected, “The Advisory Board can’t make a decision. I move to call 327 to a vote.”
Council President Callahan responded in a timely fashion, “I second.”
Council Vice President Pete Lesher inquired, “Is this a motion to move to vote?”
Pack elaborated, “It’s already been read a second time. This is a motion to vote.”
No revision of Resolution 327 required. The Council voted 3-2 against compliance with our Comprehensive Water and Sewer Plan.
This may have been expected, as few attended this meeting. Divilio did at one point shout, “Whoa,” when confronted with the idea that his position could have anything to do with money or protecting the developer; but he has made it clear that his sympathies lie with the “little town struggling to survive.”
Yet state and federal assistance were never mentioned, but a lawsuit is now in the works.
Carol Voyles is a graphic designer/illustrator who retired to the Eastern Shore and became interested in politics. She serves as communications chair for the Talbot County Democratic Forum and lives in Easton.