Worried about the potential construction of a sewage treatment system with a murky history, residents of the Apple Greene community in Dunkirk have now asked the county commissioners for their help.
Marshall Coffman, president of the Apple Greene Civic Association, submitted a letter to the Calvert County Board of County Commissioners at its meeting Tuesday requesting the board support a "community protection zone" that would prohibit drip-irrigation fields and holding ponds within 500 feet of Calvert homes.
There are three drip-irrigation wastewater treatment facilities in Maryland, two of which are in Calvert. Both of the local ones, one serving the Marley Run community in Huntingtown and another at the Calvert Gateway shopping center in Dunkirk, have been cited for repeated violations in recent years by the Maryland Department of the Environment.
A similar system is proposed to accompany a shopping center planned for Apple Greene, but its "proven inclination to failure … has totally eroded our confidence in this drip-irrigation type of system," Coffman said.
Since it appeared online a week ago, 190 people have signed a petition in support of the protection zone, said Richard Klein, an environmental consultant hired by the community. Of those signatures, 87 percent are from people registered to vote in Calvert County and half of those live in the Dunkirk area, Klein said. The petition can be viewed at www.ceds.org/cpz.
Rick Bailey, vice president of Marrick Properties, the shopping center's developer, did not return calls seeking comment.
"If we have failing systems in other areas and we know they fail, I've got a problem with putting them someplace else," Commissioner Barbara Stinnett (D) said. "[This] needs looking into."
The commissioners voted 4-1 to appoint Alonzo Barber to the Calvert County Board of Appeals, with Commissioner Susan Shaw (R) dissenting. Shaw preferred Ronald "Chip" Ross, a Solomons Island resident, because the board lacked a member who lived in District 1 and Barber is already a member of other volunteer committees.
"We do not have anybody from the 1st District on the Board of Appeals and we have in the past had a policy with regard to attempting to have geographic distribution," Shaw said. " ... I don't like to appoint a few people to a lot of different roles, I like to spread the wealth around and I really think the geographic distribution is important on this board."
But Commissioner Linda Kelley (R) had reservations about appointing Ross because of his long legal history as an opponent of the expansion of the Solomons Island Tiki Bar, which his property adjoins.
"I would have some reluctance if someone has an active court case or an active issue, to use that as a criteria for appointment, or as a reason," Kelley said. " ... If that were not the case I would not hesitate to make that appointment," Kelley said.
Commissioner Jerry Clark (R), District 1's representative, said he knows both men personally and pointed out that the commissioners had past opportunities to appoint people from the district and did not.
"Chip has been very active in putting forth his train of thought and his opinion out there to the point where he's become somewhat of a quasi-legal scholar," Clark said. " … I personally absolutely have no problem with the agenda and the mindset he puts forward because it's the right of every citizen to do that. Having said that, this board is a board we have been rebuilding and trying to put back into a positive mindset with the citizens of Calvert County and at this point in time I think that may be the wrong appointment to make."
Shaw emphasized that she had no problem with Barber, who she said is a "wonderful person," but maintained that she wanted the appeals board to have members from across the county.
Michael Benton and Scott Galczynski also applied for the vacancy.
In other business, the commissioners:
ï Voted 4-1 to begin funding nearly $27 million in capital projects before the sale of general obligation bonds, which will eventually reimburse the county. Kelley found herself in a familiar "dilemma," nearly repeating word-for-word her objection to the April bond sale for the same list of projects, some of which she did not support when they came before the board for individual approval. As she did before, Kelley voted against the list of projects, this time because it contained one she thought was unnecessary.
ï Unanimously approved the historic designation application of a home on Scarlett Drive in Huntingtown named "Islington" after a small town northeast of London, according to its owner, Joseph Oliver. Nobody testified during a public hearing on the application.
ï Voted unanimously to sign an agreement with the College of Southern Maryland outlining each party's responsibilities in co-hosting the Small Business Development Center, a nationwide initiative of the Small Business Administration that provides counseling to small business owners at no charge.
ï Voted unanimously to award Scheibel Construction an $820,000 contract to build a county bus wash facility. The county will fund 10 percent, or $82,000, of the contract with federal and state dollars paying for the rest.
ï Voted unanimously to allow for a $15,825 "emergency" repair of an engine at the Solomons Volunteer Fire Department. Due to its public safety implications, the distinction allows for the repair to be performed without competitive bidding.
ï Voted 4-1 to approve a contract to allow physical therapists to offer their services at the Edward T. Hall Aquatic Center in Prince Frederick. Shaw voted against the contract because she did not think it allowed for maximum flexibility.
ï Voted unanimously to approve two 1-acre lots on property owned by Leslie Page and Barbara Bowen in Prince Frederick. The owners placed the 69-acre property in the Rural Legacy Program in 2001 but reserved the right to build two new homes on 1-acre lots.
ï Unanimously approved 16 development options for property owned by William and Betty Bowen, in St. Leonard.
ï Unanimously approved an agreement with the Solomons Nursing Center Inc. in Dowell to acquire additional right-of-way that will be needed for future expansion of Dowell Road.
ï Voted unanimously to appoint Tommy Zinn and Susan Cox to the Agriculture Commission and reappoint Angela Swainson to the Calvert County Family Network Board of Directors; Alonzo Barber, William Gray, Dana Jones and Terry Wolfley to the Economic Development Authority and George Bowen, Louis Forrest, John Fringer, Steve Zimmerman and Tommy Zinn to the Waterman's Wharf Oversight Committee.