|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 24, 2004
Contact: Paul Comfort
County Administrator (410) 758-4098
QAC Commissioners Meet with State Planning About Denying Sewer Access to Vacant Lots on Kent Island
Ocean City-The County Commissioners held an important meeting with state secretary of Planning Audrey Scott at the MACO conference this past week. Prominent in their discussion was the Commissioners’ desire to be able to deny service to vacant lots when they run sewer service to Route 8 South on Kent Island.
“This was a very pivotal meeting,” said CC President Ben Cassell. “We want to solve the failing septic issues on Kent Island by running public sewer down Route 8, but we don't want to open up development in the process. We think we have now found a way to do that,” he said. Commissioners Cassell, Cupani, and Niedomanski were present at the Thursday morning meeting at which they pressed Secretary Scott to allow them a legal mechanism to deny sewer access to at least 1100 vacant lots of record.
Secretary Scott assured the County Commissioners that they have local discretion to deny sewer service to vacant lots. Many of the areas of failing septic and health concern on Kent Island are located outside of designated Priority Funding Areas (PFA’s). Normally, the State only allows State funds for new public sewer service to be used inside of PFA’s. The Queen Anne's County Commissioners have recently obtained an exception to allow them to service a certain number of existing homes outside of the PFA’s to solve the failing septic issues there. However, Secretary Scott stressed strongly at the meeting that state funding for sewer service cannot be used for vacant lots of record, answering a major concern of the County Commissioners.
“We came out of the meeting confident in our ability to expand the sewer service area without having to greatly expand the residential development potential on Kent Island,” said Commission President Cassell. “This has been an area of greatest concern for us, as well as for many of our current residents who fear problems from increased development on Route 8 south,” he said.
The CC will present more information on this issue and other issues with current plans for the upgrades and expansion of the QAC Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) on Kent Island during their public informational meeting this Thursday, Aug. 26th at 7:00 pm at Kent Island High School.
The aging WWTP has been one the most important issues the current Board of County Commissioners has been dealing with since taking office two years ago.
The plant is 1) in need of upgrades to reduce the amount of nitrogen pollutants into the Bay, and 2) is running out of current capacity. The County Commissioners plan to increase the capacity from 2 million Gallons per Day (GPD) to 3 million GPD as part of the anticipated $22M upgrade. The county has obtained significant State grant funding of approximately $10M to help reduce the local cost for this upgrade and expansion.
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