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Town asks for help with grease issue

Chris Patterson
The Gazette

(3/8) Thurmont's Board of Commissioners will send a letter to town business owners soon, announcing a voluntary compliance program to reduce the amount of grease that ends up in the town's sewer system.

The letter states that the town is preparing to undergo the first phase of work to repair its ailing sewer system and hopes voluntary compliance will eliminate the need for a formal anti-grease ordinance.

Mayor Martin Burns said at Tuesday's town meeting that the Board of Commissioners is prepared to create an ordinance to require compliance if businesses do not work with the town voluntarily.

The letter also states that owners of food service and auto service businesses, as well as any charities that provide food, are required to have grease traps or interceptors.

Businesses should clean the traps regularly and maintain records to be inspected by town staff. Town staff will conduct unannounced inspections of records and tests of the lines running from the business during the voluntary compliance campaign, which will run between April 1 and July 31.

Businesses that exceed the grease limit will be advised by town staff about how to remedy the problem.

Thurmont is preparing to begin $1.1 million in sewer repairs during the next year with more planned for the following year.

Snow removal policy changed

Town commissioners approved a change to Thurmont's snow removal ordinance Tuesday.

The change requires "owners and persons in possession of any land or premises situated on any street, alley or highway" in town to remove snow from the sidewalks to a width that "will accommodate two passing pedestrians" within 12 hours after snow has stopped falling. A $50 penalty accompanies a violation of the ordinance.

Previously, a warning would be issued before a fine of $25 was assessed. The snow removal requirements also previously took into consideration snow that stopped during the evening or overnight and permitted an extension in removing the snow. That is no longer a consideration under the approved changes.

The changes are effective immediately, Burns said.

Budget meetings begin soon

Thurmont's mayor and commissioners are beginning to look at the budget for next fiscal year.

Mayor Burns said the board supports the idea of a new police building, but must consider the reality of the costs and the impact of a potential tax increase to pay for it in their budget planning sessions.

Town officials also want to plan for a new town hall and public works facilities that are desperately needed, board members have said previously.

Citing concerns about the elderly and others on fixed incomes, Burns said the board will be looking to hear from residents throughout the budget planning sessions that will be held during the next few months. Those meetings will begin at the next town meeting, 7 p.m., Tuesday, he said.

Notices about the agenda items are available on the town's cable channel as well as the Web site www.thurmont.com.

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