The county council heard public comment from two fronts Tuesday night on the rescission of Resolution 281.
A public hearing on Res. 308 began Tuesday night and will continue on
The council also heard the presentation of Petition 21-1 from Dan Watson, representing several hundred Talbot County residents petitioning the county council to rescind Res. 281.
Watson had filed the petition on May 7 and since then has been asking the council to follow its rules of procedure allowing him to present the petition with witnesses.
When the hearing for Res. 308 began, County Attorney Patrick Thomas said Watson would go first, presenting the petition, since it had led to the introduction of the resolution.
During Tuesday night’s meeting, Watson said he was informed by email on Friday that the petition presentation was set for the Oct. 12 council meeting and noted it was the council that decided to schedule the presentation for the same night as the hearing on Res. 308.
He noted that 349 people had signed the petition thus far and if each person “took their allotted three minutes for public comment” on Res. 308 that would be nearly 18 hours of comment. The council’s rules for presenting a petition have”no limitation on my time to present a wealth of important, new information, but I assure you, I won’t be anywhere near that,” Watson said.
Watson outlined five reasons why the petitioners believe Res. 281 must be rescinded:
- Res. 281 connects Lakeside to the town’s existing plant, which he argued is inappropriate since a) La Trappe Creek is already polluted, b) data shows e. coli and extremely high nitrogen levels, c) the current sewer plant and system have operating problems, “including terrible infiltration,” and d) hooking up more homes to the existing plant would be “outrageous.
- Res. 281 assumes the new plant to be built at Lakeside/Trappe East will work properly as designed.
- Res. 281 is flawed because it reclassified properties erroneously.
- Res. 281 misrepresented the change being made to the sewer property classifications.
- Res. 281 was predicated on “gross misunderstandings.”
Witnesses questioned by Watson included Choptank Riverkeeper Matt Pluta, who detailed water quality testing on La Trappe Creek and an unnamed creek that feeds into it and into which the Trappe plant discharges its treated wastewater; Gene Lopez, a kayaker who said photographs he had taken of the feeder creek showed “all sorts of discharge discoloration, and something brownish, that’s floating on the water;” and Dr. Jim Smullen, a wastewater professional for four decades who said no additional homes should be connected to the existing plant until the town fixes the water and sewer system’s inflow and infiltration problem.
After a lengthy presentation, Watson and the council agreed to set another date for the presentation to continue and public comment began on Res. 308.
Calvin Yowell urged the parties to consider a new suggestion, sending the town’s wastewater to the Lakeside/Trappe East plant to be treated and then sent back for discharge into the unnamed creek.
Other speakers included Phil “Chip” Councell, Talbot planning commission president; William Anderson of the county’s public works advisory board; Lisa Ghezzi, county planning commissioner; and Tom Alspach of the Talbot Preservation Alliance.
The public hearing on Res. 308 also will be continued at a future date.