Councilmen hear waste plan critics


CAMBRIDGE – Several citizens spoke in opposition to a proposed revision of Dorchester’s Solid Waste Management Plan during a public hearing at the County Council’s meeting on Aug. 15. Their questions and criticism focused on plans to increase the height of the current New Beulah Landfill while a new site is being prepared adjacent to it.
The previous plan was active through 2016, and was updated several times between 2009 and 2016. Jeremy Morris of Geosyntec Consultants, the plan’s authors, said, “It’s a living, breathing document.”
With the current landfill nearing capacity and the county’s population growing at a rate of about 1 percent a year, “That means that every year, you get about 1 percent more trash, and you need a system that can deal with that,” Mr. Morris said.
A draft plan was submitted in September, 2016 to the Maryland Department of the Environment, and tentatively approved. Copies are available at public libraries, the Department of Public Works and online on the county government website.
Mr. Morris said a plan should provide cost-effective and efficient waste management and recycling now and in the future. With Dorchester having sent 53,140 tons of solid waste to Beulah in 2016 – a steep increase from 2015, the future might be coming up faster than expected.
The current landfill will have no disposal capacity by the end of this year, Mr. Morris said, so the county is considering using a nearby property for another disposal site.
And there’s the rub.
Susan Bautz of Hurlock is secretary of the North Dorchester Railroad, a nonprofit organization that has been working to develop a scenic rail line from Hurlock to Preston. She said a new landfill could affect their plans for a historical attraction, because, “About one-half mile of the line runs through Beulah Landfill,” she said.
Mike O’Connor is a volunteer civil engineer who spoke on behalf of the railroad. “I see a number of issues with the plan,” he said, noting that a number of private properties nearby had not been correctly identified in the document.
Mr. O’Connor also noted that increased activity at the site could hamper the group’s efforts to create a new feature for Dorchester County. “We’re trying to build a cultural resource,” he said.
Bill Windsor also spoke in opposition to the proposed expansion of the site, because of its location next to the Eastern Shore Veterans’ Cemetery. “I don’t understand why we need to put a mountain in front of that precious ground,” he said.
At the conclusion of the public hearing, the council extended the period for written comments by 30 days, from Aug. 15.

Dave Ryan is editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at dryan@newszap.com.

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