Commissioners Approve Composting Regulations

Commissioners Approve Composting Regulations
Ocean Compost LLC representative Garvey Heiderman, owner of The Hobbit, is pictured placing food waste into a compost collection bin. File Photo

SNOW HILL – County officials approved a text amendment that will allow composting facilities in Worcester County.

The Worcester County Commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved a text amendment that would allow food waste composting facility as a special exception use in certain districts. The change was pursued by Garvey Heiderman, owner of the Hobbit Restaurant and Ocean Compost LLC.

“The planning commission reviewed this and gave it a favorable recommendation,” said Jennifer Keener, the county’s director of development review and permitting.

Heiderman has been composting in Bishopville for the past two years through a transient use permit. To continue composting on a more permanent basis, he worked with county staff to draft a text amendment that would allow it by special exception. The text amendment would allow it as a special exception use in the A-1 and A-2 agricultural districts as well as in the I-1 and I-2 industrial districts.

Heiderman told the commissioners he’d had no complaints about the Bishopville facility and that he’d even invited the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to visit.

“They’re very much in support of what we’re doing,” he said.

He said the goal of the text amendment was to create a path for people who wanted to operate compost facilities in Worcester County.

“It should be very simple and straightforward,” he said.

Commissioner Ted Elder asked about the smell composting created.

“as you will find out if you delve into composting at all a properly maintained compost pile does not smell,” Heiderman said.

As far as potential problems and how they’d be addressed, Keener said a nuisance plan would be part of the application that goes before the board of zoning appeals when the special exception is sought.

“If there is an issue we can address it,” she said.

When asked about setbacks, Keener said they mirrored what MDE would have.

“The separation distance is not something you can get a variance to,” she said. “The board of zoning appeals would have the ability to set higher setbacks if they felt it was necessary.”

Commissioner Joe Mitrecic asked Heiderman how much waste his program had taken out of the stream in the past two years.

Heiderman said it had been six tons the first year, 40 tons the second year and would likely be 105 tons this year.

Mitrecic noted that benefited Worcester County because it could be added to the county’s recycling stats.

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.