Tyson Sewer Permit Extended Indefinitely

BERLIN – The Tyson chicken plant industrial wastewater discharge permit has been extended indefinitely, less than a week after a sewer plan amendment was held back because of the previous permit expiration date of August 2008.

Now there is no procedural restriction on the Berlin sewer amendment, which was presented to the County Commissioners in early December only to be postponed until the county Planning Commission looked at language acknowledging renewal of that permit as consistent with the plan.

Without that language, Berlin Properties North (BPN) attorney Mark Cropper argued last week the state would refuse to renew that permit in August.

The Berlin sewer amendment can now go forward at the Dec. 18 commissioner meeting without waiting on the planning commission.

With the extension of the permit, there is no longer a need to change the Berlin sewer plan amendment, Berlin Administrative Director Linda Bambary said.

Changing the permit expiration date turned out to be easy.

“We called them and asked them,” said developer Troy Purnell of Berlin Properties North. “It was just that simple.”

The Maryland Department of the Environment understands that BPN is trying to work with the town to resolve sewer issues, Purnell said, and that the matter is not likely to be resolved before the expiration date.

“They extended it ‘til we make another application or withdraw it,” said Purnell.

Any change in the use of the industrial wastewater facility at the defunct chicken slaughterhouse would need approval from MDE. The wastewater facility could only be used in the exact same way it was when the plant was in use.

“That’s not what we want to do,” Purnell said.

The permit extension has no bearing on the one or two wastewater plant question, Purnell said. The two-plant proposal came from Purnell, who offered to build a plant on the Tyson chicken site to serve a mixed-use development he has planned there, with the town paying for additional capacity in the plant to handle the town’s growing need for sewer.

“It all depends on the ratepayers and the ultimate cost,” Purnell said.

Berlin has scheduled a public meeting on the sewer plant alternatives for Jan. 3, at 7 p.m. in the town council chambers.

“It’s a meeting for the people for the purpose of letting the people hear what the analysis showed in more detail,” Bambary said.