Public Hearing Approved After Proposed Sewer Policy Changes

SNOW HILL – County officials again delayed approval of a resolution to establish standard sewer flow calculations to allow for another public hearing on the issue.

At a meeting Tuesday, the Worcester County Commissioners voted 6-0 to hold a public hearing regarding the establishment of standard flow calculations. They agreed that significant changes had been made to the proposed policy since the last public hearing on it was held.

“When we tabled this before I thought part of that motion to table it was to set it back in for a public hearing,” Commissioner Joe Mitrecic said.

County staff members initially proposed a resolution establishing standard flow calculations developed by the Worcester County Sewer Committee as a way to streamline the EDU (equivalent dwelling unit) allocation process and eliminate any subjectivity in allocation decisions made by the county. The resolution has since gone through various changes, however, and comments made at the last public hearing on the issue resulted in the commissioners asking staff to incorporate a reconsideration process into the resolution. Local developers have pointed out that with no opportunity for review once a business was established, they could be stuck paying for significantly more capacity than they actually use.

Though staff worked the requested reconsideration process into the proposed resolution, Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Kelly Shannahan said the county’s sewer committee did not want it included.

“The sewer committee cautions against the adoption of a reconsideration process,” Shannahan said. “First and foremost, Worcester County has been calculating projected sewage flow for the past 40 years based upon industry standard design manuals. One of the primary goals of this resolution is to incorporate this extensive data into an easy to use format for both applicants and staff to rely upon in calculating projected sewer flow for new development. A reconsideration process reintroduces uncertainty into the process.”

Mitrecic said that when the commissioners tabled the resolution to give staff time to work in a reconsideration process, they’d indicated they wanted another public hearing on the issue. Shannahan said he was not aware of that.

Chief Administrative Officer Harold Higgins said the committee hadn’t believed a hearing was needed.

“To add to what the committee talked about, there was comments made about significance of the changes,” he said. “We were led to believe significant changes would require another public hearing and as a group we did not believe it rose to that level.”

Commissioner Jim Bunting said that the reconsideration process was a change even if staff wasn’t recommending it.

“This memo is stating that they’re not recommending the reconsideration portion but they have included a new reconsideration process which the public has not had a chance to see or understand or make their views known on it,” Bunting said. “I think we need to have another public hearing.”

A motion to schedule another public hearing was approved 6-0.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.