| Already in trouble
Originally published February 07, 2013 in the Frederick News Post
|I am dismayed to see that the Maryland Department of Planning reports that our county is allowing septic systems that will have an adverse effect on the Chesapeake Bay. The objection is land consumption and water pollution. So let’s look at the list of objections to over-development in Frederick County.Or schools are now using trailers and our roads are overcrowded. At 0600 hours on commute any day I-270 is doing 30 mph or slower at Md. 109. If septic systems are bad for the bay, I would presume that they would be worse for the local water supply, which I believe is not that great anyway. All the water runoff, the overuse of a limited water supply, and schools that are overcrowded already is too much to handle. Why are we building subdivisions? Where will the trash from all this go? In the incinerator we cannot afford?It seems the commissioners do not have the interest of the residents at heart. I thought there was no money. Do not be fooled, all this development will not come near to generating the money necessary to support all this activity. Taxes have to go up — really up.
2/7/13 Citizen concerned with over-development in Frederick County, water pollution, crowded schools, trash and tax increases
1/24/13 Frederick County has…”essentially violated the state’s new law aimed at limiting growth on septic systems…
State says three counties flouting septic growth law
Planning secretary says O’Malley administration “weighing options”
7:00 AM EST, January 24, 2013
Three Maryland counties have essentially violated the state’s new law aimed at limiting growth on septic systems, a top O’Malley administration aide said Wednesday, adding that state officials are “weighing our options,” including possible legal action or withholding of funds.
Cecil, Frederick and Allegany counties did not follow the 2012 law in drawing up maps that were supposed to restrict where large housing subdivisions on septic may be built, Planning Secretary Richard E. Hall told lawmakers in Annapolis.
Hall, briefing members of the House and Senate environmental committees, said that Cecil and Frederick in particular appear to have tried to essentially “negate” the law by leaving as much forest and farm land open to septic-based housing development as possible – including some properties already preserved.
“So they basically have not only ignored the law, they’ve thumbed their nose at the state,” observed Sen. Paul Pinsky, a Prince George’s County Democrat.
Hall said Allegany officials have deviated from the law in a more limited fashion in one area of the county.
Dru Schmidt-Perkins, executive director of the land preservation group 1000 Friends of Maryland, said she’s also worried about Charles County, where she said county officials have been considering a septic growth map suggested by developers. The county has yet to adopt anything for submittal to the state, though.
The planning secretary said that only 11 of Maryland’s 23 counties have adopted maps provided for in the law that spell out where septic-based development can and can’t occur. State planners are “fine” with most of those, Hall said, concluding they’re basically in line with the law’s aim of curbing rural sprawl and limiting nutrient pollution from septics.
But the rest of the state’s counties have not submitted any growth maps for state review, Hall said, and many of those appear to be waiting to see what happens to those counties that essentially ignored the law – or to see if lawmakers amend or repeal the controversial law.
Under the “Sustainable Growth & Agricultural Preservation Act” passed last year, Maryland’s 23 counties and its municipalities are supposed to map where they plan to grow, carving their territory up into four “tiers” that increasingly limit residential development on septic systems. The maps were due by the end of the year, if the counties want to continue permitting any large-scale housing projects using septics.
Hall noted that the bill the administration introduced would have had his department approve or reject the counties’ maps, but lawmakers worried about local prerogatives to control land use stripped out the state’s ability to veto plans or order changes. Instead, the law provides that the department may force a county to have a public hearing on its septic growth plan if state planners believe it doesn’t comply with the law.
The state planning department has written Cecil and Frederick saying its maps do not conform to the law’s requirements. Cecil already has called a public hearing Feb. 19 on the state’s criticism.
“We hope they will change their maps, but there’s nothing in the legislation that requires them to,” he said. “To be blunt, they can ignore us.”
While his department is limited by the law to commenting on local septic plans, Hall said it’s possible that counties may still face lawsuits from residents who believe they or their property may be hurt by having septic-supported development nearby.
Administration officials also are considering what options the state may have to respond to a local government they believe is flouting the law, Hall said. Nothing’s been decided, he said, but noted that there’d been discussion of state agencies joining with the attorney general in a lawsuit, or withhholding some funds from counties deemed out of compliance.
Hall said he’s worried that if Cecil and Frederick don’t respond to the state’s criticism of their septic growth plans, it may encourage other counties to ignore the law unless there are some consequences.
Some lawmakers indicated they feared the state had already overstepped its authority in trying to influence local land use decisions. House Republicans have introduced a bill to repeal the law.
Del. Cathy Vitale, an Anne Arundel County Republican, questioned why Hall’s department had blocked a planned development in her county that had been approved by local officials.
Hall said his staff objected because the project in question called for extending public sewer service into an area of the county not designated for such development in Arundel’s long-range growth plan. If the county amended its growth plan to include the development, he said state planners would go along.
Del. Charles J. Otto, a Republican representing Somerset and Worcester counties, expressed his disdain for the law and recited constituents’ complaints that it is unconstitutional because it limits their ability to develop their land. He also questioned how the restrictions on septic growth would help the Chesapeake Bay.
Hall replied that the legislation was reviewed for constitutionality before it was introduced. He recited statistics on the law’s environmental effects, including keeping 1.1 milllion pounds of nitrogen out of the bay and its tributaries, and preserving 100,000 acres of forest and farmland that planners believe would otherwise be developed.
But he noted that there’s still plenty of land available for development under the development, up to twice as much as planners project would be needed over the next 25 years to accommodate an additional 450,000 households.
Earlier in his briefing, Hall sought to dispel more of what he called “misinformation” about the law, saying counties in Maryland with strict limits on building homes in agricultural areas have higher farmland values than do neighboring counties with relatively looser development rules.
“When I go out and about,” Hall said, “I’ve had some people tell me — some local elected officials, believe it or not, and professionals in the field — tell me, ‘This will actualy help us achieve our goals .. this helps lock down, solidify many existing policies that we’ve had at the local level.’”
For the most part, he concluded, “We think that this (law) is very consistent with what local governments already have in place.”
Copyright © 2013, The Baltimore Sun
Last week the Environmental Integrity Project released its report The Clean Water Act and the Chesapeake: Enforcement’s Critical Role in Restoring the Bay (December 2012) Appendix A in that report shows the Ballenger McKinney Waste Water Treatment Plant discharging 111,158 pounds of nitrogen each year over the permitted level. It is the worst offender in the entire Chesapeake Bay watershed.
“Far too much nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollution choke the Chesapeake Bay, making it impossible to sustain a healthy watershed. To restore the Bay and protect aquatic life, users will have to meet a pollution diet – a diet that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has already set by establishing “Total Maximum Daily Loads” (TMDLs) to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus loadings to the Bay by 25% by 2025, and sediment loadings by 20%.1 Measured in pounds, that means decreasing the nitrogen that flows to the Bay by more than fifty million pounds a year; phosphorous by more than three million pounds; and sediment by more than one and a quarter billion pounds.”
(sign up to speak at 5pm), Winchester Hall (12 E Church St, downtown Frederick).
Global Mission Church/David Severn, land use attorney, submitted two proposals: UR 41 (parcel 36) and UR 42 (parcel 109)
There are 2 pieces of each of these parcels that are currently zoned Resource Conservation.
- In UR 41: 8.5 acres are currently zoned Resource Conservation. Requested change of 3 acres (of the 8.5) from RC to Ag
- In UR 42: the request is to change all of the 78.87 acres to Agricultural Zoning (currently 6.3 acres of the total are zoned Resource Conservation)
Some points to consider
- parcel 36 is by the creek
- parcel 36 is 100% forested Pre-2010 zoning was about 60% RC and 40% Agricultural. The change made in 2010 was to add RC zoning to the northern portion of parcel 36.
- Parcel 36 has 1.1 acres of PFO1A wetlands: Palustrine, forested, broad-leaf deciduous, temporarily flooded wetlands. This type of wetland is rare in Frederick County, (historically most of the wetlands were cleared, filled and cultivated for agriculture.
- The Dept of Natural Resources shows a large swath of these forested wetlands along the entire length of Little Bennett Creek. The county added additional RC zoning on this property due to the wide, extensive forest buffers that exist along this creek system. RC zoning category is entirely appropriate and consistent for functional purpose of protecting the wetland and watershed. Additionally the Natural Resource land use plan designation (a change made in the 2010 plan supports the Resource Conservation zoning.
- To rezone a portion of this parcel back to Ag is contrary to county policies. The zoning ordinance definition of RC is totally consistent with the resources that exist on this parcel.
- Any changes from Resource Conservation to Agricultural Zoning may facilitate the construction of a road “driveway” for development of that land parcel.
Letters to Frederick County Planning Commissioners
- John McClurkin, Chair, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Richard Floyd, Vice-Chair, email@example.com
- Robert Lawrence, Secretary, Boblawrence5753@comcast.net
- Catherine Forrence, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Robert White Jr., email@example.com
- Audrey Wolfe, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Cc: Jim Gugel, Chief Planner email@example.com
10-10-11 Seven citizen groups address 194 land use change proposals with letter to the Frederick County Planning Commissioners
Free workshop on making your own rain barrel and how to compost at St. James’ Episcopal Church, 1307 North Main Street, Mt. Airy , Saturday, May 15th at 9:00 a.m. .
Delegates of the Maryland State House of Representatives,
As a concerned resident of Frederick, MD and a member of “Waste Not! Frederick”– I urge you to vote YES to HB228. The passage of this bill would prohibit the MD Department of the Environment from issuing a permit to construct an incinerator unless certain conditions are met; it would prohibit local jurisdictions from issuing a building permit for an incinerator unless certain conditions are met. I understand that these conditions would not apply to incinerators already built.
As a MD resident, I oppose waste incineration for many reasons, including the following:
* Incinerators do not have public suppport–as evidenced by the majority of the engaged population which has attended public hearings, written letters to representatives and newspapers, displayed No Incinerator yard signs, etc.
* Incinerators cost hundreds of millions of dollars in construction costs alone, not including further operating and maintenance costs. They are subsidized heavily by home and business owners.
* Local jurisdictions are burdened with debt for decades, and locked into contracts favorable only for the waste authority and the industry(Wheelabrator or Covanta) they represent..
* Incinerators continue to emit harmful substances like mercury and dioxin into the air, land and water–despite industry claims that they are safe. For this reason, states like MA continue their moratoriums on building new incinerators in their state.
* Incinerators produce toxic/hazardous fine particle ash which is costly and hazardous to landfill. This ash also represents a hazard in areas where it is being trucked through to reach the landfill destination, to workers, neighborhoods, etc.
* Incinerators compete with programs to reduce, reuse, recycle and compost material–both in terms of cost and because incinerators demand a large volume of material to meet minimum daily requirements.
* Incinerators will soon find a shortage of material to burn since manufacturers are changing packaging to meet the public’s demand for packaging that can be recycled or composted. Already Frederick and Carroll Counties do not produce enough feedstock (900 tons per day/600 tons per day, respectively) to meet requirements of the proposed joint facility.
* Incinerators do not produce much electricity, given the voume of trash that must be burned. It takes burning four times as much trash than coal to produced the same amount of electricity.
* Incinerators require fossil fuels (propane and natural gas ) to assist the waste burn process.
* 10% to 15% of waste can’t be incinerated anyway–there is a long list of “non-processable” items that must be landfilled. Occasionally, dangerous items such as propane tanks have been burned–causing major explosions and fires which have endangered the entire host community, not to mention workers and firefighters. See this article about Rochester, MA from 2007: http://no-incinerator.org/downloads/WteFireSemass.pdf
* Incinerator smokestacks are tall and unsightly, especially next to scenic rivers and historic landmarks such as the Monocacy River and the Monocacy Battlefield, where the incinerator in Frederick is proposed to be built.
* Incinerators increase traffic, which is undesirable on already conjected Rt. 85 and areas near neighborhoods and scenic national parks.
* Incinerators supplant better alternatives that save money, save the environment and produce local jobs to boost the economy. Why drain local MD coffers to benefit a New Hampshire based company like Wheelabrator? We could be a model community in Frederick by implementing PAYT and by investing in a Resource Recovery Park, which comprises a co-location of public and private interests–including composting facilities, recycling and reuse businesses.
As an individual and as a member of Waste Not! Frederick, I urge you to pass HB 228.
Frederick, MD 21701
Waste Not! Frederick is a grassroots effort by citizens of Frederick County, Maryland to significantly reduce the amount waste generated by local government, businesses, and citizens alike. We seek to provide opportunities to recycle and compost where only limited efforts are currently in place.
Frederick County is experiencing major growth and current waste reduction efforts are in their infancy. There has been serious discussion within local government of building an Incinerator to burn the excesses of waste currently being produced. As a community effort, Waste Not! Frederick is making the case for greater and more creative recycling efforts and is working closely with local businesses and incoming community leaders to develop more sensible and sustainable alternatives to managing waste http://www.wastenotfrederick.org/.
“Zero Waste means designing and managing products and processes to reduce the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them. Implementing Zero Waste will eliminate all discharges to land, water or air that may be a threat to planetary, human, animal or plant health.” (www.zwia.org)
by Jan Gardner
Trash is a hot topic in Frederick County! Virtually everyone creates
trash yet few people know what happens to their trash after it is
picked up at the curb! Since this topic is complex, my first column
will focus on defining the problem and presenting information about
the solid waste alternatives that have been considered by the county
commissioners. Future columns will discuss costs, environmental
impacts, and next steps.
Defining the problem:
The County receives 600 to 800 tons of trash five days per week at
our landfill location on Reichs Ford Road with an additional 200 to
300 tons received on Saturdays. That’s a lot of trash! Frederick
County government is tasked with the responsibility to dispose of our
community’s solid waste in a manner that protects public health, is
cost efficient, and minimizes environmental impacts. The Frederick
County Commissioners must responsibly dispose of this huge pile of
waste. Public health concerns will continue to demand local
government to manage this big pile.
Frederick County owns and operates a landfill, provides curbside
recycling and 12 drop-off recycling centers, grass and yard waste
composting, e-cycling, textile recycling and a number of other
related services such as tires, batteries, and hazardous waste days.
A new transfer station is scheduled to open this summer and will
include a recycling component that will allow for expanded recycling
opportunities including commercial recycling.
Frederick County has limited remaining landfill space. If all our
community’s waste was sent to the landfill for disposal, the capacity
of the landfill would be fully exhausted within three years. In an
effort to preserve our landfill space, the commissioners are
currently transferring and shipping the majority of our solid waste
to a mega-landfill in Virginia. This option has become rapidly more
expensive as the cost of fuel has increased. The cost per ton to ship
our waste to Virginia has increased from $58/ton to $74/ton over a
six-month period solely due to fuel surcharge increases. While
transferring our trash to Virginia preserves local landfill space,
the cost and environmental impacts associated with this option
clearly makes it our worst choice and a poor long-term solution.
Transferring our waste to an out-of-state mega landfill has always
been considered an interim solution rather than a long-term solution.
Shifting our waste burden to another community also raises ethical
Frederick County government provides solid waste disposal but does
not provide solid waste collection with the exception of curbside
recycling. Private haulers provide collection services to individual
households as subscribers and to municipalities and large Homeowner
Associations by contract. The City of Frederick provides collection
to its residents utilizing city employees and vehicles. The County
provides curbside recycling to approximately 56,000 households
through a contract with one hauler. The County would like to exert
some control over collection in order to require haulers to offer
recycling, implement pay as you throw programs (fee based on volume
of waste placed at the curb), and mandatory recycling. The County
cannot require certain services to be provided by haulers through
licensing agreements (used in other parts of the country) because
haulers are licensed by the state not the county. The County does not
have the legislative authority to require haulers to provide certain
services. The County Commissioners sought legislative authority
through our state delegation to implement solid waste franchise
districts to allow us to bid collection by district and require
single stream recycling collection as well as trash collection.
Franchising would also allow the county to require by contract other
special services such as yard waste collection; bulky waste
collection periodically; and, even organic collection. Citizens have
suggested that the county commissioners implement pay as you throw
trash collection (PAYT) which would require those who create more
trash to pay more and those that create less trash to pay less. Pay
as you throw collection systems in concert with free or low cost
recycling would create greater incentive for people to recycle. This
is a good idea but something the County currently does not have the
legislative ability to implement. We have requested this authority
for the past three years but the legislation has repeatedly failed.
Municipalities, since they are chartered governments, do have the
ability to implement pay as you throw collection systems. This will
be a topic of debate with the municipalities in July.
The County Commissioners have been discussing a combination of solid
waste disposal alternatives for several years. A summary of key
discussion and presentation dates is attached at the end of this
article (Chronology). While some people have criticized the
“process”, the actual process has been long and covered a broad range
of solid waste disposal options and topics. The BOCC has visited
multiple solid waste operations in our region; in Seattle/King
County, Washington; in Boulder, CO; and, in Europe. The European trip
included recycling, composting and waste-to-energy facilities. Most
European Countries have banned new landfills and aggressive recycling
and WTE facilities are common. King County, Washington is known for
its leadership in “all things environmental” from land-use, hybrid
cars, solid waste disposal, and global warming/climate change
initiatives. This trip included visits to recycling operations,
composting, and WTE. The trip to Boulder focused on “Zero Waste”
strategies, recycling and composting programs, school recycling, and
private sector examples of zero waste strategies in practice as well
as meetings with local elected officials. Commissioners, staff and
citizens have also visited Montgomery County’s WTE facility and
composting operations. These trips provided additional information
and insight into functioning solid waste alternatives. The BOCC also
hosted a Solid Waste Forum last July with a variety or presenters. A
video of this forum can be viewed on the county web page at http://
www.co.frederick.md.us/ ; then click on video tab on home page; then
scroll down to Special Events and click on the video for the July 14,
2007 Solid Waste Forum. Presenters include representatives from
Harford County; Fairfax County; the EPA; and, the Solid Waste
Association of North America (SWANA) with a question/answer period at
the end. Thus, the “process” has included many traditional BOCC
meetings and presentations, a Solid Waste Public Forum; and site
trips to locations near and far. In my opinion, the process has been
very comprehensive and covered the full range of ideas and solid
waste disposal alternatives in practice around the region, the
country, and in Europe. The volume of information considered is
Over the years, the county commissioners have evaluated the following
solid waste disposal options. I have noted implementation plans for
Landfills – both in-county and out-of-state.
* Single Stream Recycling
* Current pilot program in Mt. Airy with good participation
* Out to bid for countywide for single-family housing
* All households will receive a large tote to co-mingle recycled
materials. More materials accepted. More convenient.
* Utilize a Materials Recovery Facility or MRF to sort single stream
recycling materials. A regional MRF has capacity in Elkridge, MD. A
MRF was observed in Boulder County. Citizens suggest as part of a
proposed “alternate plan” that Frederick County construct a MRF and
provide regional recycling processing for surrounding counties. BOCC
decided to use already available capacity at Elkridge MRF.
* School System Recycling – Meetings with BOE in progress This will
be a focus of the new approved position for Recycling Education and
* Commercial Recycling – Implementation with opening of new transfer
Station later this summer and ability to take recycled materials to
* Approved new position for Commercial Recycling Specialist
* Approved rates for commercial recycling (1/3rd of cost of trash
* Multi-family recycling – Multi-family housing will receive existing
blue bins when single stream recycling is implemented for single-
family households. Commercial rates may apply to many multi-family
* Construction & Demolition materials (C & D) recycling – The County
provides disposal for construction and demolition materials at the
landfill. These materials are not transferred to out of state
landfills due to the inability to compact items and the cost of
shipping. The county has recently bid out C & D recycling to keep
some of these materials in re-use and out of the landfill.
Collection System Improvement County has sought solid waste
franchising legislative authority to more cost effectively and
efficiently implement single stream recycling and implement Pay as
you Throw (PAYT). Legislation has been unsuccessful three years in a
Waste-to-Energy – Evaluated multiple types of waste-to-energy options
including thermal, gasification and plasma arc. Some technologies
such as plasma arc and plasma gasification are unproven technologies
that have not yet been implemented on a large scale. Mass burn or
thermal waste-to-energy is proven technology. The BOCC has decided to
cost and further evaluate the implementation of a WTE facility at
three different sizes – 600 tons per day; 900 tons per day; and 1,500
tons per day as a regional facility with Carroll County.The estimated
cost per ton with a 1,500 ton per day facility is lower than the cost
to transfer waste to an out-of-state mega landfill.
The County is currently composting grass and yard waste into mulch.
The County has recently paved out an area at the landfill and
purchased a windrow system to turn the material to improve our
composting capability and improve the quality of the mulch. The
County has discussed a pilot program for combining food scraps or
organics for composting from a local restaurant or restaurants. Large
scale composting for organics and/or curbside organic collection is
being implemented in a few communities around the country but is
expensive and relatively new. Composting successfully countywide
could require an additional curbside collection of food scraps and
other organics and requires collection of un-adulterated materials.
Composting may be considered more broadly in the future once single
stream recycling is fully implemented.
Resource Recovery and Re-Use
The county currently offers a number of specialized recycling and
resource recovery options including e-cycling for electronics,
computers, and televisions. Textile recycling, collection of tires,
batteries, white goods, and other materials are available at our
landfill locations. The county web page provides information for
consumers to use to locate private and/or non-profits that provide
resource re-use or recovery for building materials and many other
household items. There is an opportunity to expand in this area and
support for doing so.
The County Commissioners have advanced multiple legislative
initiative related to solid waste in recent years including bottle/
return legislation; excise taxes to make manufacturers responsible
for the disposal of their packaging; and solid waste franchising to
allow for an efficient implementation of single stream recycling and
pay as you throw. The state legislature has also considered banning
plastic bags (grocer bags and other retail plastic bags) but this has
been unsuccessful. The BOCC does not have the authority to ban
plastic bags or place packaging requirements on manufacturers.
The County Commissioners desire to implement a fully integrated and
comprehensive long-term solid waste disposal system. The
commissioners are fully committed to expanding recycling, composting,
and resource recovery and have demonstrated this commitment through
the addition of new recycling staff, investment in single stream
recycling, legislative initiatives, and investment in composting.
However, it is clear that a portion of our waste stream cannot be
recycled, re-used or recovered and will need to be disposed of in a
manner that protects public health. This remaining portion of the
waste stream or residual will need disposal either in a new landfill
or at a WTE facility. The majority of the commissioners have decided
to further evaluate and cost WTE while at the same time expanding our
investment and commitment to recycling. In my opinion, this is
responsible and an example of good government.
There are legitimate concerns about cost and pollution with all our
solid waste options. All of them are expensive and all of them have
environmental impacts that must be mitigated. My next column will
focus on these two topics. The cost of WTE should be evaluated and
compared to other options on a cost/ton basis. This evaluation
demonstrates that the cost of WTE is comparable or less expensive
than what we are doing right now! The cost of WTE in Montgomery
County has been used as an example of how expensive a WTE facility
can be for a community. However, when this total cost is converted to
a cost per household so people can understand what the multi-million
dollars of expenditure means to them, the cost per household in
Montgomery County associated with WTE is well under $100 annually.
This is less than the disposal cost per household in Frederick
County! While a WTE facility is expensive so are all the other
options. The cost of solid waste disposal should be considered within
the context of recent county investments. For instance, the cost of
WTE is comparable to recent investments in water/sewer infrastructure
and much less than public investment in schools, roads, and parks in
recent years. There is no doubt that the cost of solid waste disposal
is expensive and a topic of legitimate concern and debate. More to
follow on this topic.
Our solid waste management challenges do have solutions. A
significant part of problem solving relies on listening to people,
consensus building, and finding common ground. We need to stay
focused on debate about solutions. I believe everyone involved in
this debate is closer together than sometimes seems apparent. There
is general agreement and support for increasing efforts for
recycling, composting, and resource recovery. We need to focus on
doing these things and then dispose of what remains in the most
environmentally friendly and cost efficient manner as possible. I
think there is general agreement that what remains is not zero! We do
need a complete solution, a realistic solution, and a solution or
solutions that most people can find reasonable and supportable.
Working together, we can solve our solid waste dilemma. There is a
lot of positive energy out there!
Next Column(s): Cost of Solid Waste Options
Environmental Impacts of Various Solid Waste Options
Jan Gardner is President, Board of County Commissioners, Frederick
Wednesday, July 16, 2008 http://airitoutwithgeorge.blogspot.com/2008/07/talking-trash.html