Non-Profit Internet Source for News, Events, History, & Culture of Northern Frederick & Carroll County Md./Southern Adams County Pa.


Council voices opposition to private sewer treatment plant for proposed development

Pamela Rigaux
Frederick News Post

(11/15/2004) A developer whose land adjoins Emmitsburg wants to install a sewage system that the town opposes.

The system's treatment plant would be outside the town's jurisdiction, but not so far away to be out of the way, said Emmitsburg Commission President William O'Neil Jr.

If such a plant failed, he said the town would have to "mop Up" the mess, and that would "exacerbate" the town's current sewage crisis.

Ed Smariga, owner of Buckeye Development LLC, said the 65 acres on North Seton Avenue that he would like to, develop into a 100-unit subdivision has been zoned for residential development for years.

"We tried to annex it into the town," Mr. Smariga said. "The town is not interested in annexing it. Our feeling is the town does not want to provide residential services.

Since the land is zoned as part Of the county, Mr. Smariga said his "only choice" is to proceed with building a sewage treatment plant for the subdivision, that the county would then operate.

Flat Run Creek runs through the property under contract. Under the proposed plan, the creek would receive treated effluent discharged from the plant.

The Maryland Department of the Environment said the creek could handle the discharge, according to Michael Marschner, Frederick County utilities and solid waste management director.

The town can't approve or reject the plant, Mr. Marschner said. It would be a county operated plant processing at least 100,000 gallons of water per day, and the decision to allow Or deny it rests with the county commissioners.

A hearing to discuss the matter is set for Dec. 16.

"It may or may not be out of our hands," Town Planner Mr. Lucas said. "We intend to speak to the county planning commission and the County commissioners regarding this."

He is writing a resolution on behalf of the town and will present it at the Emmitsburg commissioners' meeting Deed.

Mr. Lucas said the resolution will cite the fact that county treatment plants have a history Of failing.

"Towns are then required to extend services to those failed systems," he said. "It's a situation where development drives infrastructure planning rather than infrastructure driving development."

Mr, Smariga said he doesn't think it's true that county operated plants fail.

"We would think that because this is a new system, the pipes would be installed according to modern standards," he said. "The sewage shouldn't have the high inflow rainwater that other older systems around the county have."

The plant would be in the town's growth area, according to Mr. Lucas.

The town has restricted residential development to 20 taps per year, partly because its sewer system is "collapsed or in a severe state of decay," said Mr. O'Neil.

"It releases raw sewage" that eventually flows into rivers of the Chesapeake Bay, Mr. O'Neil said. "It's an absolutely horrible proposal."

Mr. Marschner estimated it would take three years for the developer to subdivide and develop the land, and Mr. Smariga has not yet requested a county sewage discharge permit.

"It'd take six to eight months to get the discharge permit, then a year to design the system," Mr. Marsehner said.

At the county Department of Planning and Zoning, principal planner Carole Larsen said she is working on a report about the site for the county commissioners.

"I think the Board of Commissioners are going to have to take into account the wishes of the municipality," she said. "I think there are larger issues than whether it's the county or town providing that source of sewage treatment."

Read other news stories related to the Emmitsburg Town Government