Based on a Star-Democrat article on December 15th, Resolution 313 is not the right answer to the myriad of problems associated with the Lakeside development project.
One paragraph in the article reads: Price’s amendment would require that any new connections from Lakeside to the existing Trappe waste-water system are subject to the town’s system not having any existing enforcement actions, consent orders or violations from the Maryland Department of the Environment.
The above is the essence of option #2 in the resolution. Option #1 is seemly overlooked in the article. The identified options are:
1) a modular ENR MBR WWTP, capable of operating the initial development flow rates; or
2) by a direct connection to the existing Town of Trappe wastewater system. Any new connections to the existing WWTP are subject to the existing WWTP not having any outstanding MDE enforcement actions, consent orders, or violations. …
Note the wording in the first sentence of Option #2: the existing WWTP not having any outstanding MDE enforcement actions, consent orders, or violations. So, if MDE is not effectively monitoring the operations of the Trappe WWTP and enforcing the terms of the existing MDE plan, Trappe is free to add the initial Lakeside homes to a failing system! — If the Trappe WWTP reporting is accurate and timely and if MDE is doing its job, it will be highly unlikely that any Lakeside connections to the Trappe waste-water system will ever be made.
Any connections to the Trappe system will only further degrade the outflow from the system. It is readily known and accepted fact that the existing Trappe system is technically “back-level”, having operational problems, experiencing significant intrusion/infiltration issues, age compromised, and severely in debt to the tune of roughly $3 million dollars. Even with the high user rates charged, the income received from the Town residents, meeting operation and maintenance expenses, and servicing the debt is reportedly challenging.
It is time for a DO-OVER! – A DO-OVER addressing the issues with the existing Trappe system as well as facilitating the continued development of Lakeside should be considered. See Option #1 above. A new level of constructive cooperation between those concerned with environmental issues, adjacent landowners, County government, and the developers is essential to reaching a solution that may satisfy (or mollify) the interests of all parties. — All parties need to step back and accept the facts that the current path is fraught with problems for which there are no satisfactory solutions if continuing down the current path for Option #2. – Resolution on top of resolution further clouds the issues and the direction of meaningful, specific solutions. The MDE draft permit should be rewritten to incorporate recent evaluation of monitoring and reporting details, eliminate sewage flows between the Trappe WWTP and Lakeside, and facilitate the extension of the allocated spray area as may be necessary.
Here are some thoughts about addressing and resolving the shortcomings of Resolutions 281, 308, and 313 and the MDE permit. Further analysis and consideration of Option #1 is recommended.
- Lakeside terminates its plan to send sewage to the Trappe system and Trappe should rescind its agreement to accept any wastewater load from Lakeside.
- Lakeside is required to concurrently construct the Phase 1 sewage system (to the latest ENR/MBR technologies) and it shall achieve operational status before any Lakeside homes are occupied.
- Lakeside contracts with the Town of Trappe to accept and process all sewage on the east side of route 50. This will provide sufficient flow for plant operations when new homes are occupied. And, it will provide an upgrade of effluent for a significant portion of the current load on the Trappe system. (Trappe Heights will provide a load equivalent to about 100 homes and businesses located along route 50, roughly another 20.) The Lakeside Phase One WWTP must accommodate the first 400 Lakeside homes plus Trappe Heights and the other establishments on the east side of route 50 at a users’ expense not to exceed the current rates. – This negates the need for construction of sewage lines across route 50 to the existing Trappe WWTP.
- The MDE permit is to be re-written to reflect the approach outlined herein and the new/revised permit shall provide more detailed sampling, record keeping, and reporting requirements. Also, the permit must identify and describe requirements for assessing the effectiveness and viability of the effluent spraying on adjacent, dedicated acreage. The latter shall track absorption rates, lateral flows that may reach Miles Creek, and intrusion into both public and private wells on adjacent properties. – Allocation of acreage for Phase One spraying of effluent shall be expanded as necessary to meet (yet to be defined) absorption rates.
- Lakeside system(s) operation will be the direct responsibility of Talbot County, not the Town of Trappe. The Lakeside WWTP modules are to be staffed 24/7 by system qualified personnel.
- Talbot County manager shall take immediate action to implement solutions to correct problems with the Trappe infrastructure for water and sewer systems and sewage plant operations. Funding should be obtained from Federal and State sources. Trappe’s current financial obligations need to be settled. (Trappe cannot independently dig out of its current problems, nor can the existing fee structure be escalated and passed onto the current residents).
- Lakeside project overall size is to be re-assessed by the county planning commission, etc. and evaluated relative to County’s the long-term growth goals. Concurrently, the commission must recognize the recent introduction of 2 new applications for residential housing developments with the greater Easton area. One is slated for 200 units and the other for 400 units. How much growth is the county prepared to support?
The Lakeside project is within Maryland Planning Department (MPD) guidelines for growth being within existing population centers and/or adjacent to existing towns. Additionally, Lakeside is approved as a Planned Unit Development (PUD – definitions and descriptions on the web). As PUD the developer is exempted from some future zoning requirements and has latitude in the overall usage allocations of acreage. The annexing of approximately 850 on the other side of the highway by the Town of Trappe (and without agreement of those landowners being annexed or potentially impacted by the rezoning seems a bit heavy-handed. The size of the Lakeside project is seemingly beyond the stated intentions of the guidelines from MPD. — Lakeside is potentially the next “Columbia”. Practically, it will be a new “town” unto itself. It is separated from the Town of Trappe by route 50. It will potentially require a significant increase in municipal services such as police, fire, and EMS, schools and libraries, road construction and traffic controls, etc.
We all have to accept the fact that there will be population increases over time and that people will need places to live and work. It is not evident to the majority of those having concerns about the project as to whether or not adequate job has been done to address the above questions and to access the potential impacts of a development project as large as Lakeside may ultimately become. It is not simply the development itself: it includes the impacts upon the environment, municipal services and infrastructure, resources for common services including electricity, natural gas, internet, and water, as well as aesthetics for housing designs and density, parking, open and common spaces, street-scapes, and climate changes. It is not well known or clear as to what extent many of these items have been addressed by the Talbot County Council or the Town of Trappe.
We must recognize that developers have every right to pursue their goals. Hopefully their accomplishments will contribute to the betterment of our communities and society. If a developer wishes to build a new housing subdivision, he/she should be able to do so, so long as it conforms to standards, norms, policies, and laws established by Federal, State, and Local government agencies.