The citizens of Maryland’s Eastern Shore have a right to be outraged by the saga that’s unfolding with the Lakeside development in Trappe. Talbot County has the responsibility to plan for the adequate treatment of wastewater from this massive, 2,500 unit residential and commercial project, and the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) must decide whether to approve it. Neither of those things are happening.
In 2016, the Talbot County Council redesignated areas for growth around Trappe in its comprehensive plan. But it expected that high-performing “Enhanced Nutrient Removal” (ENR) treatment technology would be installed to treat wastewater from any new development in the town. “Such upgrades will be necessary to support projected growth in Trappe,” the plan reads. This type of wastewater treatment removes the highest amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus, in turn providing the greatest protection to local waters and the Chesapeake Bay.
The county followed through by amending its water and sewer plan to program ENR at Trappe’s existing wastewater system, noting the facility “is approaching 20-years of service and is in need of upgrades to continue to serve the community.” Representatives of the Lakeside developer have repeatedly said that ENR treatment in Trappe is the ultimate goal.
But when Talbot County council members Laura Price and Pete Lesher introduced multiple resolutions that would formally plan for the very upgrades that are called for, the remaining council majority voted them down. This is in conflict with the county’s own planning commission, which found the resolutions consistent with the county comprehensive plan to the extent they specify that no new homes should be connected to the Trappe wastewater treatment facility unless it meets ENR standards.
Now the Maryland Department of the Environment, which is reviewing a wastewater permit for Lakeside, is left wondering what to do. “Based on the conflicting actions taken by the Talbot County Council and the Talbot County Planning Commission, MDE is unable to determine the actual positions of the county,” the agency wrote in February.
This is more than a passing statement. MDE has a statutory obligation to base its wastewater permitting decisions on the adequacy of amendments like the ones Talbot County made in its water and sewer plan to serve Lakeside.
And so it’s ironic that while a council majority voted against the ENR requirement to expedite the project, there almost certainly will be more delay. MDE cannot issue a wastewater permit for Lakeside if the agency is unable to determine that the county’s plans are adequate.
Because of this, our own scientific review, and overwhelming public concern, denying the wastewater permit for Lakeside is exactly what MDE should do.
Alan Girard is the Eastern Shore Director for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation
Letters to Editor
Margot McConnel says
Jay Corvan says
Thank you for that great piece Alan. It’s right to the point.
But waiting for MDE to do the right thing Is a bit like waiting for Gadeau , with the spate of bad rulings and missed opportunities and the insider trading that MDE has become famous for , it’s very likely they won’t do anything, least of all rhe right thing.
Procedurally they should absolutely turn down and reject the Lakeside application. If anyone other than the well connected people abd develipers pushing this project were concerned, it would be thrown out of consideration in a heartbeat. The one condition of the planning and zoning commission confirming the agreement with the comp plan is all That should be relevant at this point. End of story, The rest is blather.
The head of the department at MDE , Mr grumbles has proven deferential to governor Hogan’ who is personally invested in lakeside, a fact very few know. So you can imagine this is the clash of titans we will never see going on behind the scenes in smoke filled rooms. This is exactly what is lacking here, a complete lack of transparency and thwarting the rule of county law. It smacks of corruption at the highest levels and the three errant county commissioners are mostly to blame. They have no legal power to approve this aspect of the development , it’s all about the planning commission. It’s proven maryland law.
These three errant commissioners will Soon see there’s a reversal in their future. But they are forcing citizens to resort to Legal correction , and a defense the county citizens must pay for twice, a making of their own legal fantasy.
These three must be turned out of office. Until commissioners learn to play by the rules and stop playing king for a day and wasting County time money , and most importantly , due process, we should never allow this train wreck of policy to happen again.
In that regard , We county citizens should install a vote if no confidence clause in the county charter to keep this corruption from re-emerging. It’s such a waste of time and citizen resources. It’s too Long a time to have three renegades commissioners in control of council with no recourse. We need to fix this. Thanks. J.
Jane Phelan says
This Lakeside fiasco is frought with innuendo, lies and wrong information. No wonder we voters are confused. So in the interest of clarity, let’s get all the facts out in the open.
How do you know that Gov. Hogan is “personally invested in lakeside”? Please provide your sources for this “fact very few people know”.
Knowledge is power.
Wilson Dean says
Alan Girard hits the nail on the head with this article. He has made it very clear that the facts of this case should lead MDE to make the responsible decision to shut down any hookups until the ENR standards are met. Yet getting the MDE to act responsibly appears to be a major roadblock.
Joyce DeLaurentis says
Agree with Mr Girard and all commentators.
Prefer to see MDE do the right thing, but Mr Corvan outlines the absolute necessity of political change.