Residents Hope To Defeat Spoil Dumping Plan

BERLIN
– Plans to deposit dredge spoil from the Marsh
Harbor canal on a property in Friendship Village
near Berlin
have neighbors fearing for the local water table and their property values.

“The whole community is very upset about this,”
said Doreen Hudson, a resident of Friendship
Rd. whose home sits across from the dredge spoil
site. “We do not want a dredge spoil site in this area.”

Lifelong Friendship resident Harry Mitchell said his
property abuts the spoil site and that he is “very much against it.”

“It’s a quiet little village. We’re very proud of
it. We don’t need a dredge spoil site in the middle of it. It’s got people very
upset,” he said.

Whaley Brittingham, owner of the Marsh Harbor
canal, also owns the proposed dredge spoil site, through a family trust.

“There is a canal that is on the south side of
those town homes, where they moor big boats, sportfishing boats,” said
Brittingham’s attorney Mark Cropper. “The canal is on Chincoteague
Bay and just from the flow of the currents, there is a hump [of
sand] there.”

Brittingham must dredge that out, Cropper said.

The spoil will be placed on an interior site, 1.59
acres of the 56-acre parcel, he said. Spread evenly, 5,000 cubic yards of spoil
will cover the site to a depth of two feet.

“He lives in West Ocean City. I guess he cares less about the
people here; all the people feel that way, anyway,” Mitchell said.

Villagers cited several concerns over the dredge
spoil intended for the community: water contamination, property value
reductions, truck traffic and odors.

“The big concern is the contamination of the wells.
It’ got to go somewhere and it’s got to go down,” Mitchell said.

“What they’re dumping, I have no idea what it is,
and I need to know,” said Gail West, owner of Beary Best daycare on Friendship Rd.

According to West, daycare wells are monitored
closely by state and county agencies contaminants, from bacteria to arsenic.

“My water has to be tested every quarter and yearly,”
West said. “My well water is monitored and if it isn’t up to spec then my
license is not renewed. I would lose my business, and it’s not safe for the
kids.”

Cropper said, “The dredge material is sand from the
canal. It’s no different than the dredge spoils placed on Homer Gudelsky
Park. It bleaches out.
It’s sand.”

Mitchell, who owns two parcels near the spoil site,
is worried that the dredge spoil’s effect on the water table will render them
unfit for building.

“What’s in this material? We have yet to be told,”
he said. Mitchell added, “There’s the
truck traffic. Five-thousand cubic yards is going to be brought in there.
You’re looking at over 400 truckloads coming in there.”

Hudson said, “They can’t prove
to us right now what all of this is going to do to our well water.”

West said she is also worried about airborne
contamination.

“I’m very concerned about the odor and what [the

children] are going to be breathing,” she said. “If you’ve ever ridden behind one of those trucks, they’re always

leaking.”

School bus traffic is
already high on Friendship Rd.,
which leads to Stephen Decatur Middle and High Schools.

“We have trouble enough
with people stopping for the school bus,” West said. “People are not going to
stop as quickly as they can.”

If the dumping
continues, Mitchell said it’s inevitable property values will drop.

“I understand it’s
going to be a perpetual dredge site. He can dump 5,000 cubic yards there every
year,” Mitchell said. “Who’s going to want any land close to it? Property
values will go down.”

An informational
meeting will be held on Friday at Friendship
Church, at 7 p.m. The
proposal will go before the Board of Zoning Appeals on Feb. 14.

“We hope we defeat it.
We’re going to give it a run,” Mitchell said.

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