County Planners Discuss Possible Dredge Spoil Sites

SNOW HILL – Planners said last week that Worcester County needs a dredge spoil site, but wondered whether a proposed private spoil site would fulfill the lack.

The question was raised Feb. 7 during an informal discussion by the Worcester County Planning Commission of a private dredge spoil site in Friendship Village, northeast of Berlin.

The private spoil site has already excited neighborhood opposition.

“Is this the appropriate place? That’s the question,” said Ed Tudor, director of development review and permitting.

Planning Commissioner Jimmy Bunting seemed to think the answer was no.

“It’s pretty residential down there, and I’d hate to think that would be opened up forever to dredge spoils,” Bunting said.

Only dredge spoil from the Marsh Harbour canal in West Ocean City will be deposited over two acres of the 56-acre site, according to Mark Cropper, attorney for dredger Whaley Brittingham and for the owner of the site, the Earl Brittingham Trust.

While the landowner may intend to only deposit dredge spoil from the canal clearing project, the county cannot require that limitation.

“That’s an enforcement nightmare,” said Kelly Henry, county zoning administrator.

Inspectors would have to follow the dump trucks from the dredging barge to the dumping site, Henry said, to monitor usage.

Inspectors would need something to watch, Tudor agreed.

“We need a dredge spoil site. Is this the place for it?” Planning Commission Chair Carolyn Cummins asked at the Feb. 7 meeting.

In the past, dredge material could be deposited near Hooper’s crab house, next to the north side of the Route 50 bridge. Everyone used that site for dredge spoil, a county staffer said, but it is no longer available.

The old police shooting range in Newark was also used once for dredge materials, Cummins said.

“There’s places to go,” said Tudor, adding, “Keep in mind the transportation costs. [The material] is wet and heavy.”

“We can use the landfill,” Cummins suggested.

The Army Corps of Engineers’ northern Assateague Island stablization project needs only a limited amount of dredged sand and cannot use the dredge spoil from Marsh Harbour.

The bay off the old Shantytown property needs to be dredged regularly, and the dredge spoil needs to go somewhere, Henry said.

The Friendship site will not solve the Marsh Harbour dredge spoil problem, staff felt.

Dredge material can be used as fill in construction projects, but the dredger must get a wetland license and an Army Corps of Engineers permit.

The commission discussed dredge spoil sites during a review of items scheduled for the Feb. 14 Board of Zoning Appeals meeting and were aware of opposition in the village.

“There’s a lot of people calling,” said Bunting.

Planning Commission Jeanne Lynch said, “My feeling is, it’s grown up a little too much to be doing that for any length of time.”

Friendship Village residents, despite an informational meeting with Cropper last weekend, said afterwards that they still plan to protest the dredge spoil site at the Board of Zoning Appeals meeting Feb. 14.

 “We’re going down,” said neighborhood leader and lifelong resident Harry Mitchell. “We hope we can get this thing away from our neighborhood.”

The information meeting did not change the protestors’ stance.

“It’s just a mucky mess they’re going to drop up there. We don’t need that in our little village,” said Mitchell. “We’re still fighting not to have that.”