|Public hearings held on two QA's sewer map amendments|
|CENTREVILLE - Public hearings were held Tuesday (3/26/02) on two sewer map amendments for development projects that would bring 1,140 homes to Queen Anne's County.|
Sonata Club is a planned community of 390 single-family and multi-family
homes on the east side of Maryland Route 213 near Taylor's Mill Road, on
the south end of Centreville. Gibson's Grant would consist of 750 single-family
and multi-family homes that would be built on the north side of U.S. Route
50 on Kent Island, bordering Macum Creek and the Chester River.
The hearings Tuesday before the county commissioners, sitting as the county sanitary commission, were on requests to change the designation on the county master water and sewer plan to show both development sites are eligible for public water and sewer service. The sewer map amendments would also allow a project which will need a sewer allocation greater than 5,000 gallons per day.
Odin Development Group plans to buy a 214-acre property owned by Nicholas and Jean Wood and develop 184 acres to build the Sonata Club at Centreville. Attorney Joe Stevens, representing Odin, said 184 acres was annexed to the town of Centreville. Stevens said Sonata would be an active adult community that provides homes to people 55 and older. No one under age 19 could live there.
Barry Griffith of Lane Engineering said the town has agreed to provide public water and sewer to the site. The development - when completely built - is expected to require sewer and water treatment capacity of 98,500 gpd. Odin plans to build no more than 100 homes until the town's sewage treatment plant is expanded. The county sanitary district and planning department staff recommended the amendment for the Sonata project be approved.
Two Centreville residents raised caution flags about the ability of the Centreville sewage treatment plant to handle wastewater flows from an increasing number of homes in the area - even after treatment capacity is expanded from 300,000 gpd to 500,000 gpd.
Approval shouldn't be given for Sonata's sewer map amendment until a firm date is known for upgrading the town sewage treatment plant, said Frank DiGialleonardo (See Note below). He said the first 100 homes would add 25,000 gpd of wastewater to be treated at Centreville's plant before it is upgraded.
An active adult community would be good for Centreville, but the infrastructure has to be in place first, said Col. Harry Dermody. "We've got to step back and say, 'what can we handle and let's do it in a rational manner,'" he said.
The sanitary district and planning staff also recommended approval for the map amendment for Gibson's Grant. It's expected the 750 homes in the community would generate water and wastewater flows of 187,500 gpd which would be piped to the county's sewage treatment plant on western Kent Island.
Development of the 139-acre property will be based on the traditional neighborhood design concept. Gibson's Grant will feature a mix of different size single-family homes and townhouses; a central park and smaller parks, and a main boulevard entrance, said Chuck Covell, vice president of Bozzuto Development Company - one of four major project partners.
In response to a question by Commissioner George O'Donnell about affordable housing, Covell said the homes in Gibson's Grant would sell at market rate. He said the price for the least expensive homes would probably be about $130,000.
"That has to be considered affordable when you're looking at infrastructure costs," said O'Donnell.
Attached (copied below) are the comments I made at the subject hearing held 3/26/02. I want to emphasize that this is an opportunity for the Commissioners to give necessary, detailed review to the impact of approved subdivisions on sewage capacity and capability. Planned sewage service for all these new developments, plus the "grandfathered lots", has not been rationalized against current and future capacity. Do you know for a fact that you are not approving more sewage load that even the new Centreville plant would be able to handle? I think you are. The TMDLs for the Corsica are a set figure (pounds), not a rate. You can't just keep adding load without increased technology to reduce nutrient content. This advanced technology is expensive and is not included in the new plant design.
The commissioners are clearly not getting real planning staff support in this area (or in other infrastructure areas for that matter). It is another case of too much too soon for this town and county. It is your (Commissioners') responsibility to take the time to assure that the necessary planning occurs. Developers can wait. You are to serve your taxpayers. Call a moratorium on new sewer applications except for infills in Centreville (and perhaps elsewhere).
In the meantime, you will be putting a stop to worsening of conditions in the impaired Corsica and Chester Rivers. The Centreville plant is exceeding Clean Water Act limits by a factor of three. Every additional dwelling unit you allow to be added worsens this sick situation. If you allow the current plant to max out, it will be dumping approximately 30% more nutrients into the river than it is now. This will essentially kill off any chance we have of restoring health to the river in the near future.
Testimony given by Frank
Before amending the County
Master Water and Sewer Plan per the Developerís request, the Commissioners
should carefully consider the following points:
1. The proposal would add 25,000 gpd of sewage to the current Centreville Waste Treatment Plant before that aged plant would be replaced by a new, more effective plant with greater capacity. Developments and subdivisions already incorporated into the Town and County plans will quickly use up the remaining capacity of the current plant which is some safety margin below 375,000 gpd. Over 300,000 gpd of that capacity is currently used. Current developments such as NorthBrook are adding to that usage everyday. The County should not commit to providing for additional developmentís using that plant until all current and pending usage is reconciled with current capacity. To do otherwise would be promising something the County could not deliver.
2. The current Centreville plant is operating under a consent order from MDE. The Nitrogen and Phosphorus content of the effluent it releases into the Corsica River currently exceeds MDE Clean Water Act standards designated for the Corsica River by a factor of more than three. If the Commissioners are sincere about their concern for the health of the Corsica, the Chester and the Bay in general, they should refrain from approving sewage for Sonata and other large developments that will add significant additional discharge, which exceeds Clean Water Act standards. No such approvals should be granted until a firm date for the new plant is established and capacity that is granted should be only for the new plant, not the current inadequate facility.
3. The Commissioners should refrain from committing sewage capacity for Sonata and other large developments that would discharge to the new Centreville plant until both a firm date for the new plant and an overall reconciliation of current and planned demand with the new plantís capacity is accomplished.
4. The Commissioners should not consider the planned spray irrigation facility as an additional source of sewage capacity. The spray irrigation planned will be a useful adjunct to the current and future plant and will help relieve some of the nutrient load on the River. However, it should not be viewed as a long-term sewage facility. (I believe the Commissioners already appreciate this point given its past experience with spray irrigation limitations.)
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