County Council debates future of Beulah landfill

County seal (color)
CAMBRIDGE — County Council started off the April 5 meeting with a proclamation declaring April 16 to be Healthcare Decisions Day, and joined representatives from Shore Regional Health in urging county residents to revisit their health directives this month.

A legislative session followed, in which the suspension of the excise tax on new construction in the county was renewed, with Councilman Nichols opposing. The suspension of the excise tax is thought to spur new home construction. Councilman Nichols opposes it because he doesn’t believe the lack of excise tax has any effect, and believes the county is giving away valuable revenue with the measure.

Council members met with representatives of local municipalities next to discuss the tax differential between city and county taxes. As this was a meeting and discussion, nothing new was proposed or voted upon.

There was also a public hearing that evening on the Wright’s Creek Estates Subdivision and the county’s proposed acceptance of roads within as county-maintained roads. As there was no public comment of opposition to the plan, the proposal was accepted and passed.

In the Manager’s Comments section of the meeting, the Solid Waste Management Plan Revision request submitted by Public Works met with hot debate. The current issue: The New Beulah Landfill needs to expand to accommodate county trash in the future. The landfill in its current state will be filled to capacity within two years. The landfill is approved and permitted to expand vertically to an additional 68 feet of altitude. In order to expand horizontally, which is not permittable according to state law currently, an exception permit would have to be submitted to the state, and the permit process would take at least three years. Also, the state has enforced a moratorium on new landfills in the state, making a new landfill location a non-starter.

Money-wise, expanding vertically would cost approximately $150,000; expanding horizontally would cost $2.1 million or more. Conclusion: the county wants to expand vertically to ensure sufficient capacity, while also starting the permit for a horizontal expansion and hope for approval three years down.

The negative: Two residents in attendance shared the two major opposition points to vertical expansion. One, a veteran, declared that it was shameful to have a landfill right next to a veterans’ cemetery, and to make the landfill “mountain” 68 feet higher just increases the shame. Two, the Council was accused of dragging its feet for years on the issue, until the only option was the easiest, to go higher. County pointed out that their hands have been tied by the state regarding potential new landfill locations, and limited regarding horizontal expansion because the county does not control the adjacent properties that would be necessary to make horizontal expansion possible.
After lengthy discussion it was agreed to defer a vote until all options are explored, including possibly getting an audience with Governor Hogan to plead for relief from some of the state restrictions.

In the rest of the Manager’s Comments part of the meeting, a bid award was accepted for the ADA ramps to be built at the county office building, and a resolution to change the amount of landfill tipping fee credits for municipalities and communities was approved. An airport Capital Improvement Plan update letter was approved, as was a request to advertise for proposals for a Fixed Base Operator at the airport and a new T-hangar lease offer. A request to advertise to rent the airport terminal office space was also granted.

A bid award for the grass cutting contract for tax sale properties was submitted and approved by Public Works, as was a Change Order Request for the Old Beulah Capping Project. The Hurst Creek dredging permit application request was also discussed and approved.

A Teen Court application request was approved for the Local Management Board. A bid award for the Phase 1 renovation of the James G. Busick Tennis Courts was granted for Recreation and Parks, and Special Events Agreements for the Finance department were approved.

Surplus property declaration requests concerning old county office furniture was approved, as was a bid award for the Community Development Block Grant Residential Renovation Projects by Delmarva Community Services.
Other grants approved include the Delmarva Regional Healthcare Mutual Aid Group Pass Through Grant, and a FY17 Maryland Heritage Areas Authority Management Grant application request submitted by the Tourism department was granted.

A travel request for the Detention Center was approved, a potential transfer of a State Police vehicle for the Weed Control Department was approved, as well as a handful of telephone poll confirmations. Additional items added to the agenda included a request for an amendment of a T-Mobile tower lease agreement, which was passed, and a flurry of property transfers from the tax sale list to private developers for demolition or renovation. Council always sees property transfers as a good idea, since the act moves derelict properties back onto the tax rolls and off of the county maintenance list.

There being no other business to come before the council, the meeting adjourned at 8:02 p.m.

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