Wicomico County Council met October 2.
Here is the minutes provided by the council:
In attendance: John T. Cannon, President; Larry Dodd, Vice President; Marc Kilmer, Ernest F. Davis, Joe Holloway, Matt Holloway and John Hall.
Present: Laura Hurley, Council Administrator, Robert Taylor, Council Attorney, and Lynn Sande, Executive Office Associate.
On motion by Mr. Dodd and seconded by Mr. Hall, the Legislative Minutes from September 18, 2018 were unanimously approved.
On motion by Mr. Dodd and seconded by Mr. Hall, the Open Work Session Minutes from September 4, 2018 – Health Department Lease Agreement, were unanimously approved.
On motion by Mr. Dodd and seconded by Mr. Hall, the Open Work Session Minutes from September 4, 2018 - Installation of Street Signs on County Roads, were unanimously approved.
On motion by Mr. Dodd and seconded by Mr. Kilmer, the Open Work Session Minutes from September 4, 2018 - Update on Connelly Mill Property, were unanimously approved.
Laura Hurley, Council Administrator:
Public Hearing: Resolution No. 107-2018 – Approving a First Amendment to Lease Agreement between Wicomico County, Maryland and Piedmont Airlines Inc. for Property Located at the Salisbury-Ocean City: Wicomico Regional Airport. Mrs. Hurley said Council held a Work Session on this request at the September 4th Council meeting. She said a Public Notice was published in the Daily Times and posted on the County's website stating that a Public Hearing would be held this evening. Mr. Cannon opened the Public Hearing. There were no public comments. Mr. Cannon closed the Public Hearing. There being no further discussion, on motion by Mr. Dodd and seconded by Mr. Davis, Resolution No. 107-2018 was unanimously approved. Public Hearing: Resolution No. 108-2018 – To Amend the Fiscal Years 2019-2023 Capital Improvement Program and Capital Budget to Reallocate $450,000 of Fiscal Year 19 General Fund "Pay-Go" from the STARs and ADS-B Equipment Project to the Runway 14-32 Extension Project for the Salisbury-Ocean City: Wicomico Regional Airport. Mrs. Hurley said Council held a Work Session on this request at the September 18th Council meeting. A Public Notice was published in the Daily Times and posted on the County's website stating that a Public Hearing would be held this evening. Mr. Cannon opened the Public Hearing. There were no public comments. Mr. Cannon closed the Public Hearing. There being no further discussion, on motion by Mr. Dodd and seconded by Mr. Davis, Resolution No. 108-2018 was unanimously approved.
Resolution No. 109-2018 - Authorizing the County Executive to Accept a Grant Award from the Maryland Aviation Administration (MAA) in the amount of $145,355 for "Airfield Markings” at the Salisbury-Ocean City: Wicomico Regional Airport. There being no discussion, on motion by Mr. Dodd and seconded by Mr. Davis, Resolution No. 109-2018 was unanimously approved.
Resolution No. 110-2018 – Bond Resolution. Mrs. Hurley said this Resolution provides for the issuance and sale of bonds in an amount not to exceed $10,500,000. She said the projects to be funded are shown on Page 4 of the Resolution and include several Board of Education projects, a new Public Safety Building, and Contingency Funds. She said the bond sale will be held on October 16th. Mr. Dodd asked if this is the amount the County did last year, to which Mr. Weston Young, Assistant Director of Administration, speaking from the audience, responded, it is less than last year. There being no further discussion, on motion by Mr. Dodd and seconded by Mr. Kilmer, Resolution No. 110-2018 was unanimously approved.
Resolution No. 111-2018 (SM) – Extending the Date for Voting on Legislative Bill 2018-09 to enact a New Chapter 133 of the County Code titled "Animal Control”. Mrs. Hurley said Charter Section 311 provides that all Legislation not passed within sixty days after it is introduction shall fail, unless five members of the Council affirmatively vote to extend the deadline. She said Legislative Bill 2018-09 was introduced on August 7, 2018, and will fail if not acted upon by October 6, 2018. She said this Bill is scheduled for a Work Session later today, and this Resolution will extend the deadline date to October 16th. There being no further discussion, on motion by Mr. Dodd and seconded by Mr. Kilmer, Resolution No. 111-2018 was unanimously approved.
Resolution No. 106-2018 - Approving a Lease Agreement Between Wicomico County, Maryland and E.S. Adkins, LLC for Property Located at 801 North Salisbury Boulevard. Mrs. Hurley said this Resolution was introduced on September 18, 2018, but was tabled to allow Mr. Taylor some extra time to work out some of the provisions with Administration. She said the version on the Council table is slightly different than what is in the Brief Book, and she believes Mrs. Sande just passed around a redline version of the mold provision that was updated. She said the version on the Council table is the new Exhibit A to the Resolution. Mr. Cannon asked if any discussion Council has in reference to the redline version would mean it would be necessary to present amendments since it is not the exact Resolution that is in the Brief Book, to which Mrs. Hurley responded, the actual redline version was attached to the Resolution before it was introduced, so no motions would need to be made to amend the lease at this time, unless Council wanted to make further changes to it. Mr. Weston Young, Assistant Director of Administration came before Council. Mr. Hall asked if this lease is the lease recommended by the landlord and agreed to by the County Executive, to which Mr. Young responded, what Council has before them with the redline is in reference to the mold suggestions received last night from Council Attorney Taylor. He said they presented those today to the owner, and, unfortunately, John McClellan, who spoke with Council at the last meeting regarding this lease, was unable to make the meeting tonight. He said the owner was okay with the majority of the comments, and the redlines reflect what the requested changes from Mr. Taylor's revisions. Mr. Hall asked if, otherwise, what Council has been presented with tonight is acceptable, to which Mr. Young responded, correct, it is acceptable to the owner. Mr. Cannon said, as he understands it, no amendments are necessary in order to satisfy the concerns over the mold provisions. He then asked if that is correct, to which Mrs. Hurley responded, that is correct because the lease was updated before the Resolution was introduced.
Mr. Joe Holloway asked Mr. Taylor if this is what he sent to Administration, to which Mr. Taylor responded, he will give Council a rough overview of everything that has happened since the last meeting when they suggested some changes. He said all of the changes he suggested were adopted with the exception of the provision on the mold. He said the overall history of that is that he suggested a mold addendum that has language in it that is right out of the State of Maryland's Leases for Offices and Other Spaces that have Leases. He said they rejected that, more or less, entirely, and came back with a provision that had several things in it that he thinks are matters of concern. He said the first is that there was really no hard definition of the type of mold that would be actionable or objectionable, and that would be determined. He said that has been, more or less, addressed, so he will put that off to the side. He said the other, and probably more significant concern was, if there was mold that would be actionable, what the County's rights and remedies would be. He said the way it was proposed when they came back the first time was that the only remedy the County would have would be to terminate the lease as to the particular suites that had mold, not the entire lease, and he thinks there are five or six different suites that are being leased in that building. He explained that he proposed two changes to that, the first being to provide that the County would have a self-help remedy. He said, in other words, if they look at the lease, it talks about if the landlord is unable or unwilling to eliminate the actionable mold, and that is what they are talking about, a situation where they say they are unable or unwilling to do it. He then asked what the County's rights would be. He said, as proposed, the only remedy the County would have would be to leave, or to terminate the lease as to those particular suites, whatever that might be. He clarified, if not all of them had the mold, they could only terminate those that did. He said he proposed the self help remedy whereas, if they were unwilling to remediate the situation, the County could do it at its expense, but back that expense out of future rent so it would be, essentially, made whole. He said the landlord objected to that, and scratched that out. He said he also provided that if the County wanted to terminate, they could terminate as to the entire premises. He explained, in other words, all of the suites, so they would not have a situation where they terminated two out of five or six suites, and had to move that part of the office elsewhere to some other site, so, essentially, they would have two different sites for what he gathers is going to be a combined operation at that property. He said the landlord also rejected that, so they are now back to the only remedy the County having would be to terminate as to any suites that have mold in it, but not the entire premises, and, frankly, he thinks that is pretty unrealistic and unacceptable. He said the current landlord may be the best landlord they could find in town, in the State, or in the world, but the property could be sold tomorrow to a new landlord, so he thinks any thought that they have a great landlord who always treats them right is something they have to be careful about because the property can be sold in an instant, and the County has no say in that. He said that is his view on that, and he thinks, frankly, that what he has suggested is very reasonable. He said if they do not want to remedy a mold situation, the County ought to be able to do it, and if they want to terminate, they ought to have the other option to terminate the entire premises.
Mr. Cannon addressed Mr. Paul Wilber, County Attorney, and said he was on this end of the arrangement, and he is assuming that as it is written out seems to be satisfactory to the Executive Branch, and it also seems to be satisfactory to him as the County attorney, and he guesses maybe Council needs Mr. Wilber's opinion as to Mr. Taylor's opinion on this. Mr. Wilber then came before Council and said many leases do not have mold provisions at all. He said, for instance, the Piedmont Lease that was approved earlier tonight, and Piedmont is not a corporation without decent legal counsel. He said, certainly, this does not accomplish all they would necessarily like to have, but it is, certainly, movement by the landlord to address a mold situation. He said they do not have a mold situation that anyone is aware of right now. He said, as he understands it, there are two leases currently there, to which Mr. Young added, there are two existing leases there, the oldest one going back to 2000. He said, in the eighteen years they have been there, there have been no reports of mold, so that, he would think, should be taken into consideration. Mr. Wilber said, considering all the factors, the Executive is okay with this lease.
Mr. Joe Holloway said he thinks about the reason they are moving there, which is because they have had mold problems where they are at now, to which Mr. Young responded, it is bound to have mold with the water pressure coming in. Mr. Joe Holloway said he does not think the mold will transfer on the desks or anything like that, but they have to look at the history of why they are even needing to rent this space to begin with. Mr. Young explained, they need to get the Health Department employees out of the basement of the Hurdle Building to be able to examine, and hopefully fix, the issues they are having in the basement, so they are trying to move them to this facility. He said they have two entities of the Health Department, a dental unit, and a WIC Unit, there now. He reported, in talking with the owner and the representatives today, he will tell Council the self help remedy is not acceptable to them in any form. He said there is no limit to how much the County could spend and then say they are writing off their rent on that. He said the thought is that they are fine extending the amount of time if the County wanted to terminate the lease because there was mold, and they would be given that time if necessary, but the whole self help remedy is not acceptable.
Mr. Cannon said he can understand Mr. Taylor's concerns, but he is not so certain that the mold is going to be a real issue at this location as it never has been, and he does not see where the issue has come up that often anywhere near that general vicinity. He said the other thing is that he believes if someone is going to complain to a landlord about a mold issue, the first thing that landlord is going to do is try to address it immediately because they have other tenants in the building, and they also know they are going to have to release that space at some time or another, and the last thing, he believes, anybody wants is to have a reputation of a building that has mold in it.
Mr. Dodd asked, if there is concern about mold, is there going to be an inspection since it is in the lease, and is the County going to hire somebody to do an inspection to make sure there is not mold, to which Mr. Young responded, yes. He said, if Mr. Dodd reads the proposed changes, which is redlined on the right hand side of that page, he will see that the tenant may at its sole cost and expense retain the services of an industrial hygienist certified by the American Board of Industrial Hygienists, so they would have it tested, and then they would have to remedy it. Mr. Dodd asked if the County would have to pay for it, to which Mr. Young responded, correct.
Mr. Hall said he would suspect that the tenant would be capable of identifying mold fairly rapidly since they are in the health business, and would be able to address any concerns that would come up that makes this not necessary because they would address it so quickly. He said it is like seeing mold in the shower and taking care of it immediately rather than have a professional come in and remediate it. He said, as the Health Department is moving in there, he would hope they would be able to identify mold, and the different kinds of mold, and would see what the problem is, and then communicate with the landlord. He said this landlord has a reputation of taking care of their properties, so whether they change later or are sold, he thinks this property was inspected prior to this, and the inspection showed that there were not any indications of any problems of this type, so he cannot imagine why they would leave this in.
Mr. Joe Holloway said, in the worst case scenario if something does happen, they will be moving out real swiftly and trying to find another place to go. Mr. Dodd said he is not concerned about the mold because he has never heard of a history of it, and he is just wondering why it was put in this agreement.
Mrs. Hurley said this Resolution was actually introduced at the last meeting, so she would make the recommendation they should amend the Resolution to say Exhibit A as amended. Mr. Cannon clarified, amend it to include Exhibit A, to which Mrs. Hurley responded, as amended. On motion by Mr. Dodd and seconded by Mr. Kilmer, Resolution 106-2018 was unanimously amended. There being no further discussion, on motion by Mr. Dodd and seconded by Mr. Kilmer, Resolution No. 106-2018 was unanimously approved as amended.
Ms. Edna Walls and Mr. John Holsten came to the podium together. Mr. Holsten said they are here tonight for a few minutes to talk about a couple of issues that Ms. Walls has communicated to the County, and he was just made aware of this about half an hour ago. He said he understands the Humane Society is a separate entity from the County and does not report to the County itself. He said, however, the Humane Society does receive a sum of money from the County every year, and that is public tax money that goes to the Humane Society, and, apparently, there are no provisions anywhere in the ordinance or the bylaws of the Humane Society, or wherever that says the Humane Society needs to report back to the County on how they are spending that money, and what it is being used for, etc. He then asked Ms. Walls if that is correct, to which Ms. Walls responded, yes, and she believes there is somewhere between $200,000 to $300,000 appropriated per year to the Humane Society. She said, as far as she knows, she has learned a lot about the Humane Society. She said the County gets blamed for many things when Animal Control does not do their job. She said, therefore, hopefully, people will learn that the Humane Society is run by the Board. She then asked who is the Board appointed by, to which Mr. Joe Holloway responded, themselves. Ms. Walls clarified, the Board is appointed by themselves, to which Mr. Joe Holloway responded, the other Board members. Ms. Walls said she really does not know, and that is why she was asking that question. Mr. Bob Culver, County Executive, speaking out from the audience, said the County is strictly a funding agent. Ms. Walls asked who the one person is that appoints that Board, to which Mr. Kevin Usilton, Interim Director of the Humane Society, speaking from the audience, responded, by the memberships of the agency. Ms. Walls said, since this is taxpayer money being appropriated to the Humane Society, they would like to see where that money is going, and to make sure it is going to benefit the Society and the animals. She said she does not know what can be done about that, but she feels very strongly that something should be done about that, being it is taxpayer money.
Mr. Holsten said a couple of the other issues are that they feel it would be good for somebody in the County to review the bylaws of the Humane Society because they are spending taxpayer money to make sure everything is on the up and up. He clarified, nobody is saying that it is not on the up and up, but it would be a good idea to know exactly what is going on, and where the money is going to because they are putting money into that organization. He said they also feel that the Animal Control Officers might need better training on the State and local laws because a lot of times there are stories of complaints out there where the Officer goes out, but cannot do anything because it is not covered under the law, and perhaps a little bit of training needs to be done. He said, also, it would be good if the Officer could report back to the complainant whenever they go out on a complaint as to what is going on, and what kind of action has been taken.
Ms. Walls said, after a report was made for an animal that needed rescue, she went back to find out what they could do, and she was told they could not tell her anything about the animal, and she does not think that is right, and she thinks that needs to be changed. She said many times in the past things have been said, and when people do not know the laws of the County, they blame the Humane Society, or they blame the County. She said the laws need to be specific so that more work can be done, and so they know it is being done, and they know where the taxpayer money is being spent. Mr. Holsten added, they want the public to have confidence in the organization as well. Ms. Walls said, right now, everything could be running very smoothly in the Society, but they do not know who they are going to have employed years down the line, so they need to have the laws specific so they have to be accountable. She said it seems there is not much accountability there, and there needs to be for the public, for the animals, and for the County taxpayers' money.
Mr. Cannon said they have made good points, but, to help clarify, the County has the right to inspect their books whenever they choose. He explained, the Internal Auditors they have in Wicomico County are allowed to perform audits on any agency or organization which receives funding from the County, and they did audit the Humane Society in August 2016. He said the County does recognize that, and they exercise that privilege, so he does not think they are asleep at the wheel there, but perhaps it would not hurt to consider that on an annual basis. He said he knows they have auditing done on their own as well. He said the second part of this pertains to their bylaws. He explained, to review their bylaws, it is a nonprofit organization, and he does not know how much the County as a Government organization can intrude upon a nonprofit, but he is sure there are always means by which to cooperate without having to force someone's hand, so it is certainly worth looking into.
Ms. Walls said she thinks the people of the County just want accountability from the Officers that they are doing their job, and not that Mr. Usilton is not doing his job because she knows he does, and she has heard many good things about him, but he may not be here forever. She said, if somebody else comes along, if they do not have those laws set in stone for them, animals can be left out there to die.
Ms. Katrina Purnell came to the podium and said she is a resident of Salisbury, Maryland. She said she asked questions last week when they had the meeting at the Civic Center for the new expansion of the dump, she still has several concerns. She said she learned last week that there are six cells that are used presently at the dump, and the County has permission to do four more. She said the new location will have twelve, so that means sixteen. She said, if they add sixteen more, that is almost making the continued site almost three times as large as what it is. She said the liner variance between where it stops and the water table they have on the Westside is only 4.5 feet. She then asked, as the water table goes up, what does that do to that protection they have? She said she also wants to know about the liner that is used. She said, on the charts last week, they said 50 percent would be used for waste for Perdue, and she needs to understand the decay rate of the waste from Perdue, what that ammonia and nitrates have on the decay of that liner, and how that is then going to filter down into the water on the Westside. She said, when she first moved over there, she had to change her septic system because the septic tanks they had were tin, and the nitrate level that was in that area was already high and put holes in there, and they had to change to cement. She said she does not know what fabric the County is using, but she does not think it is enough variance for 4.5 feet. She said she is really close to getting tired that everything that is a negative is on the Westside of the Wicomico River, and that nothing positive really comes their way. She said there has got to be another site, and she would like to know how many other sites were reviewed before they all decided to expand this some more, and whether somebody else in the County will share in the waste dumping besides the Westside of town.
Ms. April Jackson came to the podium. She handed out letters to Council, and said these were emailed to Council and the County Executive on May 5, 2018. She said this is not in reference to the landfill, but she will say something about that after she gets finished with this. She said she emailed this letter to the County Executive, and she copied the County Council members in reference to a lady in their community who is a pillar in the community having a street named after her, and she never heard a thing back in reference to this taking place. She said, in her community, the African American Community, in the City of Salisbury in Wicomico County, she has not known since she has been alive one person who is an African American and had a business for 50 years. She said this lady worked hard and tireless in the community, and she gave to her community, and she thinks it would be fitting to have, not Jersey Road because she understands the postal area and how that would conflict with some things, but South and North Carilou named after Ms. Loretta B. Jolley. She said she has not seen this on the Agenda, and she has waited since May, June, July, August, and September, and here it is October. She said she knows it may not be important to all of them, but it is important to her community that this is done. She said she gave, and they want to make sure they give something back to her and her family. She said Ms. Jolley's family and some of the members of the community have agreed with what she has said today, and some of them could not come, and some are here for this same reason, but she would like to see this done as soon as possible because she deserves it.
Mr. Cannon apologized for no one getting back to her because he felt the Council was going to work on a policy and procedure, and they had actually reached out to other Counties in the State to try to see how they had established policies and procedures for this, and they are in the mix on that. He said it is probably his fault for not having put this back on the Agenda, but they did address the circumstances in Wicomico and realized they did not have any type of plan that said a person had to follow certain qualifications in order to have a street named after them. He explained, two or three people could come in and say they would like to have something named after someone, and the County has to be able to hand them a procedure. He said that is what they were going to do as a Work Session, and they will follow up on that within the next 30 days to find out exactly where they are with it to address her concerns.
Ms. Jackson said Ms. Purnell also spoke about the proposals for the southern and northern landfill, and she is waiting for her statistics to come back for Wicomico County as far as the cancer rate in Wicomico County, and the cancer rate on the Westside of Salisbury. She said she agrees with Ms. Purnell on a lot of issues, and a lot of her concerns because it seems like everything that is contaminated has been on the Westside of Salisbury, and she said that at the meeting last week. She said she feels as though the County should find other sites because she knows they are not the only side that has land that they could put a landfill on. She said she knows it is an extension from the old landfill, but they want to live. She repeated, they want to live, and she feels as though this landfill, and the landfills before, as she mentioned last week, Lake Street, the dump, Route 50, the incinerator, Brick Kiln Road, a dead horse plant which is now a landfill, and here comes another landfill. She said, yes, Perdue, gives jobs, but there is contamination and pollution, so she just asks that they rethink their plan, and rethink what they are doing and think about the people and the lives. She said she knows it probably needs to be done, but does it need to be done now. She clarified, she is not just thinking about now, but is thinking about their future generations that are to come. She thanked Council for their time and asked them to ponder this.
Ms. Doretha Jones came to the podium and said she is a resident of Wicomico County, and she lives on the Westside, and she wants to also speak about the landfill, but she wants to digress just a little. She said her parents always taught them to treat people the way they want to be treated. She said, for many years she worked in the school system. She said she had children who were black, children who were white, children who came from affluent families, children who did not, children who were fast learners, and children who were slow, but she knew that each parent sent to her the best that they had, and she felt it was her responsibility to make the best decisions for all of those children. She said she would hope that the persons in charge of the landfill location will think also of their constituents, and make the best decisions for all who are affected. She said she recalls, as Ms. Jackson and Ms. Purnell said, it seems that the negatives have always been on the Westside of town. She said she thought of the incinerator, and there was something she called a mini landfill that was on Naylor Mill Road, and they had to go to bat to get that stopped. She said then there was the chicken farm, and they had to fight to get a new school at West Salisbury. She said Charles H. Chipman was a new school, but when it had the name, it was just Chipman, and they had to fight to get his full name, but the lettering on that is smaller than most buildings that are named. She said the Highway that has come through disproportionately affected the Westside of town, so she is hoping that anyone who has something to do with the location of the landfill will take all of these factors into consideration, and will think of other sites. She said, as Ms. Jackson said, she is sure there are other places. She said they have held it for a long time, so she is sure there are other places where it could be served. She said she knows the landfill is necessary, but to please think of all their constituents before they make a decision.
Mr. Bill Harden came to the podium and said he lives in Delmar, Maryland in Wicomico County, and he is here to speak on the Connelly Mill land donation. He said they call it the pit in the neighborhood where he lives, which is Shadow Hills. He said he would like to read Council a letter that was written on January 4, 2013, and he will announce the author of that letter once he has completed reading it, and he has a reason for doing it that way. He said the letter is addressed to Captain Paul Simon at the Salisbury Police Department. He said even though this is not totally a County issue, it is a City/County issue, in the opinion of the members of the Shadow Hills Homeowners Association. He then read the letter "Dear Captain Simon: I am writing you on behalf of Connelly Mill Limited Partnership (CMLP), the owner of the referenced land located south but not fronting on Connelly Mill Road, on the west side of the railroad tracks, and on the north side of Leonard Mill just above your shooting range facility. Access to the property is via an unimproved 50 foot right of way running southerly from Connelly Mill Road past the conveyor plastics property on the west. I have enclosed a current tax stamp. The owner of the property has for years posted and reposted the property in an effort to keep trespassers out, but to little avail. The signs are quickly torn down. The trespassers consist largely of dirt bikers, four-wheelers, people running, people hunting, and target shooting. I emphasize that the property is in the City limits where the discharge of the firearms is prohibited. The activities of the trespassers not only damage the property, but they also constitute a nuisance and potential danger to the owners and occupants of the residence of the adjoining Shadow Hills subdivision, particularly those living on Stillwood Drive. Those residents have, with CMLP's permission, tried to identify and stop the trespassers with very limited success. They frequently call your Department and they call the Sheriff's Office too, but usually by the time the officer arrives, the trespasser has disappeared. It is believed that they monitor your radios. It is our understanding that members of the Shadow Hills community have scheduled a meeting with you next week to discuss the situation. If you need any additional information or desire our cooperation in any way which we are capable, please so advise." Mr. Harden said this letter was written and signed by R.S. Smethurst, Jr., who represented the owners at that time. He said his purpose of being here tonight is part of the homeowners' association, and he apologizes up front, but he is using this meeting as a catalyst to put this situation out to the public. He said he has asked for two meetings with Mayor Jake Day, and he has yet to meet with him because they were both cancelled each time he made that request. He said what they come home to in the Shadow Hills development after a day's work is what he is about to play for them right now, which is campfires, dirt bikes, and he saw one dirt bike that had a 3year-old being held in one hand, and riding the dirt bike with the other. He said this video shows a campfire in the back, and this is almost a weekly issue. He said Christmas, they are back there, Super Bowl Sunday, they are back there, and he really takes offense to that. He then showed the video on his phone in which dirt bikes could be heard, and said that is just a small sample of the continuing problem they have back there. He said he has gone back there himself, although he had no authority as a police officer when he was a police officer to go back there, but the times he has gone back there, he has had individuals back there with semiautomatic weapons literally drinking liquor from a bottle, and sitting around a campfire, and, of course, the dirt bikers do the same when they go back there. He said his purpose in bringing this before Council, once again, is to just use this as a platform to get it out there, and, secondly, he is hoping that the land is donated to the County in hopes that someone will do something back there to deal with the situation that they have been dealing with for years. He said the date of that letter, again, was January 4, 2013, and he will be more than glad to provide any other videos or letters he has in trying to deal with this situation.
Mr. Chris Taylor came to the podium and said he is also a resident of Shadow Hills, and he just wants to reiterate the fact that it is a daily and weekly event of things going on back there. He said he also works for the Sheriff's Office, so he has done that side of it too, and he can tell Council that they would rather deal with the extra traffic that a park would make. He said he has his child sitting in the audience, and he looks forward to taking him to the proposed park because it sounds awesome, so he is just saying he is in favor of them taking the property and making it a huge park because he thinks that would benefit their neighborhood, Delmar, and the County, and he thinks it would be positive for them.
Mr. Scott Taylor came to the podium and said he is also a resident of Wicomico County, and lives in Shadow Hills. He said he will take Council back five years on this property. He said they came home from the Winterfest of Lights in Ocean City, and there were cops at the end of Foskey Lane where it meets Connelly Mill with lights flashing. He said they stopped and asked if it was okay to go through, and they were asked where they live, to which they responded, Shadow Hills, and they were told they were good to go. He said they went in Shadow Hills, and went up their driveway and pulled in the garage, and they saw more lights, so he told his family to stay in the car. He said he went to the back door of his house where he saw a light coming through the woods very close to the property. He explained, his house backs up to the farm that is in County limits, but the property they are talking about is City, and the pits is City. He said, coming through the woods was a light, and he was scared to death because police officers were outside his development. He said he opened the door and asked if he could help the person, and it was a member of the Tactical Team in all black with a gun with a light on top of it, and he was asked to identify himself. He said he told him he was the homeowner, and, apparently, they were looking for somebody who had fled from the police, used the pits to dump a car, and he believes they set that car on fire and fled. He said there was a police chase, and they were looking for this person with all hands on deck coming through the woods. He said the Officer asked him if his basement was locked, so he went down and checked that door. He said he went in the shed and checked that, and then was told to get in his house. He said that was five years ago, but the same thing could happen tonight on that property. He said it is a nuisance property right now, and the owners do not seem to be able to do anything with it despite their efforts to put up no trespassing signs. He said they are not willing to, apparently, put any more money into fencing, or anything like that around the property. He said the homeowners have done everything they can do, but he is not going back there. He said he is not like Mr. Harden who is brave enough to go back there because he does not know what he will be met by if he tries to confront somebody who is back there. He said, at 5:45 this past Sunday night he was cooking out on the grill and he heard dirt bikes. He said it sounded like they were in his back yard, and they are not quiet as they are modified. He said, at 10:30 at night when they are trying to go to sleep, they heard four-wheel trucks back there, and, again, they are the loud ones probably with illegal mufflers. He said a lot of times at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning they will hear the same thing, and people will ask why they do not call the police. He said, quite frankly, the police will not get there until the people have left, and they might have more important things to do, and he realizes that. He said they are not going to put it at the top of their list to try to get back there to try to track someone down. He said, when they do call, who do they call? He said sometimes County will ask if they are sure it is on their property because that is the farmland, and the City will say it is County property. He said they will tell them it is City property, and then they are told they have to go through the County property to get there. He said he understands that, but there is nothing they can do about that. He said his family and Shadow Hills are in favor of taking the donation of the land as it butts up to Parker Complex, and it could be used in the future for expansion of that complex. He said who would have seen 20 years ago that they would have the number of baseball and softball fields they have now at Parker, and when he was playing soccer out there in high school, they would have never thought that, and this could be used for that. He said, until that time, it can be used for recreation, and he understands that the pits can be used for digging out dirt for other places in the County, so he just thinks it would be a very beneficial to the County to have that piece of property, preserve that green space, and also handle a nuisance property at the same time.
Ms. Casey Taylor came to the podium and said she also lives in Shadow Hills. She said she is here to speak on behalf of the homeowners' association. She said she is the President of the Association. She said the elected Board Members of the Shadow Hills Homeowners Association (HOA) would like to give their support of Wicomico County accepting the donation of the Connelly Mill Road parcel commonly known as the pits. She said the HOA Board Members addressed this topic at their July 2018 Board Meeting, and all agreed that they would like to see this property in the hands of the County, and used for parks and recreation use. She said this property has been a continuous concern for the residents of the Shadow Hills development. She said these concerns have been communicated to the current landowners' representative with little attempts at stopping the current activities that are happening on this property. She said the landowners are not local residents, to the best of their knowledge, but have only attempted to post no trespassing signs, which are quickly removed by the people using the property without written permission. She said activities include motorcycles, dirt bikes, ATVs, and fourwheelers, and large bonfires and parties have also been held on the property, and multiple gun shots have been heard on the property at all times during the day and night. She said they do not believe these shots are from the Salisbury Police Department gun range as their practice has a different tempo and sequence than the ones that are heard at the pits. She said the shots are often heard at late hours and in the middle of the night not common to the Salisbury Police Department to be practicing. She said she has been told about other illegal activities that have occurred in the pits, such as abandoned stolen vehicles and illegal drug use, but she does not have firsthand knowledge of whether this is true or not. She said policing the property has been a big concern when phone calls are made to the Salisbury Police Department, and it has been difficult to initiate. She said they believe this to be because the property is in the jurisdiction of the Salisbury Police Department, but commonly accessed by the right of way from Connelly Mill Road, or from the railroad tracks which are policed by the Wicomico County Sheriff's Department. She said on more than one occasion they have been told by the Salisbury Police Department that this is not their area. She said Salisbury Police Department does not have a vehicle that can access this area as well, and they have to call Wicomico County Sheriff's Office. She said it is the opinion of the HOA that all of these activities occurring on the property could be easily addressed and stopped by converting this to County property, and removing it from the City limits. She said this would allow the Wicomico County Sheriff's Office to provide policing, which would help alleviate the confused issue. She said other simple security measures, such as ditches or three foot poles to block access, and no trespassing signs would help secure the property. She said the HOA believes this valuable property will be an asset to Wicomico County in the immediate future, and for generations of citizens to come. She said there will always be land in the County that can be used for parks and recreation, but it will not be the land that is already adjoining the current County park as this is. She said, also of note, the proximity of the land to the population center and major access roads are already in place in the County. She said, simply put, to the Shadow Hills HOA, this opportunity is too great to pass up for tax money that is currently provided to the County and the minimal cost it will take to maintain it as it currently sits. She thanked Council for their service. She said, to make their community a better place, Shadow Hills hopes they will make the right decision, and feel this is a win-win for their community.
Mr. Eddie Boyd came to the podium and said he lives in Wicomico County. He said there has been some discussion regarding solid waste disposal, and he wants to take them back because he does not believe everyone was at the information session last week. He said a number of them received notice that they should pick up a certified letter that was sent to them, which they initially thought was from the Department of Public Works. He said, however, he later learned that the letter actually was submitted on the County Executive's stationary, but really was from Maryland's Environmental Protection Agency. He said the letter notified them that there was an information session being held on September 25th, and the purpose of that session was to provide information regarding a proposal that had been submitted to the Maryland Environmental Protection Agency Solid Waste Division regarding the expansion of the current landfill. He said, obviously, he was rather taken aback by that as he had not heard any discussion regarding whether or not the landfill would be expanded prior to this notice, nor had he heard any discussion about other alternatives to disposing the waste other than continually storing it in the ground. He said, during the hearing, there was a consultant there speaking on behalf of Public Works, and they indicated that two expansion areas had been identified in the initial proposal, one they called the north expansion area, which would have been on the corner of Route 50 and Naylor Mill Road, and then there was a second one they called the southern area, which he has a map of. He said he hopes they have all seen that, and, if not, he is sure Mr. Davis would be able to get them a copy of it. He said it is across the road from the current landfill. He said the consultant indicated that the northern area was off the table, so he assumes that is still accurate, but he has no idea whether it is or not. He said his sense from the Environmental Protection Agency was that, roughly, he thinks they said it is on the table until some written notification is provided to them that says it is off the table, so the first thing he would ask is that it would be removed from the table in the right way, whereby this initial proposal be modified in writing so that the only site that is in the proposal is the site that is called the southern expansion area. He said he thinks, in a broader sense, there needs to be some robust discussion within the County regarding what are the best and safest ways to dispose of solid waste in the County, and figure out how they can do that so that no citizen in the County is negatively impacted, certainly from a health standpoint based on a decision the County has made regarding how that solid waste is disposed. He said he thinks this decision was really, in his judgement, a rush decision. He said he talked to Councilman Davis, and he was even unaware that the northern area was even proposed, and he indicated, as far as he knew, that had never come before the County Council, but simply was submitted by the Department of Public Works. He said, in any case, that aside, he thinks they need to slow this whole process down, and have a robust discussion within the County to figure out as to what is the best way to dispose of the solid waste they are generating in the County without burying it, and possibly creating problems for those of them who live in the area near this particular site. He said, obviously, there may be sites in the County whereby no homeowner would be impacted where they would not have to send out these certified letters alarming folks about a decision that is imminent. He said, of course, he was very surprised by it. He said he went down to the library to try to get a copy of the document, and that took a little work, but he certainly was able to get that. He said he is asking the County to initiate a discussion about two things, and one is the solid waste and to be really a forwardlooking County, and have a good discussion about dealing with sewage and water for the full County. He said, at some point, they have to get away from septic systems and wells, and really have a discussion about how to provide good water and sewage, and how do they dispose of solid waste in a way where no particular entity in the County is negatively impacted by those decisions.
Ms. Mary Ashanti, President of the Wicomico County NAACP, came to the podium. She said, on behalf of the NAACP and herself, she lives on the Westside, and for years when it is hot, there is an unbearable odor in the air from time to time. She said the other thing is she, basically, does not have anything to add to what has been said. She said they are in support of what Ms. Purnell, Ms. Jackson, Ms. Jones, and Dr. Boyd shared with Council, and they support them wholeheartedly as to what they said. She said they urge Council to cancel whatever plans they have to extend the landfill on the Westside. She said, as she has listened, she has a concern of the way this is being handled. She said there were a few people being notified by registered mail, and not everyone having input, and she does not know what they can do, but they are the County Council, so she is thinking they and the County Executive have something to say over what the Department of Public Works does. She said they are asking them for some accountability in how this whole situation has been handled and rethink it. She said, as Ms. Purnell said, she thought about it today when she was thinking about coming to this meeting. She said she was raised in this County, and she remembers the incinerator being where the police department is, and the landfill, and anything that is bad or bad in an environmental way is being put on the Westside, so that gives a negative feeling to those who live on the Westside of what folks think about them as citizens, and whether their health is important. She said she hopes they change how things are worked out, and that they find another location for the expansion.
Mr. Davis said, in regards to the hearing last Monday, that was a Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) hearing, and those notices were sent out by MDE. He clarified, the County did not send those notices out, and they usually send them out to people who are in close proximity to where the action is going to take place. He said, as far as the sites, Council had approved the southern site for the addition to the landfill. He explained, when he got a phone call that Monday about the northern site being on the plans for MDE, he was shocked, so he made some phone calls and he was told it is. He said he then made some phone calls to a couple of the Councilmen, and they showed up because they were under the impression that the northern site was not to be considered because they were not going to purchase it, and they had given approval for the southern site, so they, too, were caught off guard as well. He said, as far as the cost and health, he agrees wholeheartedly with the citizens that they cannot put a price on people's health, and just to say this is a cost-effective way to do something does not mean it is always right. He said there are other ways of disposing of trash, but some people see the cost and do not see that they should go that route. He said he is like Dr. Boyd and does see that there are other ways of disposing of trash, and he thinks they should be considered. He said people do not realize that they are the only County in the State that does not have its own sanitation department, and right now they have to depend on Salisbury for water. He said, if they want to annex or bring a business into Wicomico County, it depends on Salisbury because Wicomico County does not have its own sanitation department, and that is sad. He said, as big as this County is, they do not have their own water and sewer, and, as was said earlier, wells and septic systems in Wicomico County are failing. He said, when they fail, they are not able to get permits to put in new wells, so they have to hook up to City water. He said, if they keep annexing these developments into the City, there will be no Wicomico, but it will be Salisbury, Hebron, and Mardela, or the Cities that have a sanitation department. He said he agrees with Dr. Boyd that they have to do something about that.
Mr. Kilmer said there was an environmental forum a couple of weeks ago, and they were talking about a lot of issues, and he made the comment at the time that when people see elected officials, they see what is on the news, but Council spends a lot of time talking about landfills, and things like that, which do not really make the news, and are not really glamorous issues, but are important issues. He said, to Dr. Boyd's comments about alternatives to the landfill, he thinks all of Council would welcome alternatives to expanding the landfill. He said the landfill is an expensive venture to operate, and there are a lot of environmental issues that come up with it. He said they spend a lot of time trying to figure out a cost-effective way to deal with the County's garbage problems, and it is tied into the Connelly Mill issue that they are talking about later tonight. He said this Council has examined some alternatives to the landfill, to increase the recycling rate, and to deal with trash. He said they have either come up with things not being cost-effective, or the technology is not there, but the County is definitely exploring other options besides just putting trash in the ground, so he wants people to be assured about that. He said he cannot speak for the operation of the landfill as there are more experts in this room who know more about the landfill than he does, but, if the technology is there to dispose of garbage without putting it into the ground, and it does not overburden the taxpayers, he thinks every County official in this room would welcome that. He said, if they did not have to expand this landfill, find places to buy dirt, have dirt donated, or dig it up, and get permits, it would be a lot better for all of them involved. He said he definitely shares that goal, and he thinks his fellow members share that goal in finding alternatives to burying garbage. He said right now he does not think there are a lot of realistic alternatives, but he wants to continue to explore that, so he just wants people to be assured that they are looking and trying to find alternatives to the landfill, and the old fashioned way of getting rid of garbage there.
Council President Comments:
Mr. Cannon said, to reiterate what Councilman Davis said, he was under the impression that Council had a Work Session at great lengths about this, and, as he understands it, Council was adamantly opposed to the north end purchase and expansion, and that is where they left it. He said this came as somewhat of a surprise that this meeting was held, and part of what was presented by the County was a map that showed the northern parcel. He said it is his understanding that the map is what was presented to the State prior to presenting it to Council, and, as a result of that meeting with Council, the north section was no longer under consideration. He said that is where he thinks they got ahead of themselves. He said Mr. Weston Young can correct him if he is wrong, but, as he understands it to date, the north end is not on any type of planning or consideration for expansion of the landfill.
Mr. Weston Young then came to the podium. He said what they submitted to the State showing both sides was from before they met with Council. He said, after they met with Council, it was determined that if they purchase the property, which they do not even own the property where the north expansion is being proposed, but if they acquire that property, they would use it as a borrow pit. He said they do not own it now, but it is going to come before Council, hopefully, soon. He explained, the landfill requires significant soil to operate and, ultimately, to close, and they do not have a decent amount of unmined material now that they own. He said, after the meeting with Council, going to the northern expansion onto the properties they call the Potts properties was taken off the table. He said, after the meeting they had, Councilman Joe Holloway brought up a good point that if they dig that out, there is no chance of an expansion in that direction in the future. He said, again, what they submitted to the State was well before they met with Council because they wanted to get their foot in the door. He said they were told there was a limited window for any potential expansion, and current landfill life capacity is at 22 years, and in 22 years they are done. He said they will have to ship their trash out and have no control over what those costs are. He said they are trying to keep things economically feasible, and he knows they have to consider other parameters, and they are considering them, but when they have to then ship out their waste to another landfill, they are at the whims to what landfill will accept it, and what the cost is to truck it to New Jersey, or Northern Virginia, or the Midwest. He said that is something they need to consider. He said, when they had a series of drainage issues across the County, they held drainage meetings across the County, and he thinks it would be beneficial to talk Solid Waste because there is a lot of misinformation about what goes on at the landfill. He said their recycling rate and the Perdue numbers were mentioned, and chicken waste is being composted, so it is being diverted from the landfill. He reported, they have one of the highest recycling rates in the State. He said they are in the top ten Counties, so they are doing great with the recycling program, and everything they divert from the landfill extends its life. He said, if they can educate people more on recycling, he thinks they can extend that 22 years even further. He said it may be helpful to have meetings across the County and talk to people because, yes, there are people immediately impacted around the landfill where it is, and there are arguments to be made about keeping it there because they already have a scale house, leachate tanks, and there is infrastructure they would have to recreate elsewhere. He said, however, if they go Countywide and tell everybody that their cost to dispose of waste, whether they have a dump sticker or they use waste management companies, could go up 50 percent or 100 percent, and they do not know if they do not know where they are putting their waste. He said if someone has City water and sewer now, the rates went up this year. He said, if they are in the County in an Urban Service District, it went up even more than a standard person. He said, when people are on a fixed income, having the water and sewer rates go up affects them significantly. He said the cost to dispose of the waste they generate will go up in 22 years when this landfill closes, and there is not a cheaper option, and that is what was explained by the consultant that night, that this is the cheapest option. He then asked if it is the best for quality of life? He said probably not, and probably shipping it elsewhere and paying a premium gets it away from them, but it is out of their control. He said, when they look at the finances of the landfill, it is an enterprise fund, and it is doing well. He said, if they have to then transition to sending it away, it is something they can look into and look at numbers. He said he believes Ocean City does it now, and he believes they pay $64 per ton, and that may include transportation costs. He said they currently have $60 a ton, and their dump sticker is $60 per year. He said they could go across the County and ask how it would affect someone if the $60 per year or $60 per ton becomes $100, and whether they are willing to pay that to not have a landfill in the County. He said he thinks having discussions would help educate, and they could get input, and they could have the entire County involved. He said maybe the people outside of Pittsville want a landfill, or maybe they have property to offer, or a good idea, or maybe not. He said maybe they need to look into incineration and spending tens of millions of dollars on that type of technology. He said maybe a regional solution is to be had, but he thinks they should be having the conversation, and educating on what they know and where they are. He said they can have MDE attend those meetings if they are available and give the State viewpoint. He said he does think there is a chance to educate and get more citizen input, and he thinks they are going to work on that after this meeting.
Mr. Cannon said they are lucky in Wicomico County because they have one of the best minds in reference to Public Works with Mr. Young as he truly is an expert in this field, and has the concerns of every citizen in Wicomico County at heart, and he says that earnestly. He said also during the meetings, which not everyone had the opportunity to attend, Councilman Davis did stand up to address his concerns about what he considered to be the inappropriate expansion of the landfill, so he just wants to alleviate concerns in reference to that.
There being no further business, on motion by Mr. Dodd, seconded by Mr. Kilmer, and unanimously approved, the Wicomico County Council Legislative Session was adjourned to convene as the Urban Services Commission followed by Open Work Sessions before the Wicomico County Council.