The Talbot County Comprehensive Plan’s mission is to “preserve the rural and agricultural character of the area while promoting economic development and protecting the environment in natural resources so that the special quality of life we enjoy remains intact.”
Spray wastewater technology for 54 residences on 480 acres having been in and out of compliance over the past two decades, Talbot County is taking over spray wastewater treatment for the Preserve at Wye Mills. And so it’s hardly any wonder that Lakeside’s proposal for 2,500 residences on 865 acres concerns us.
Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) shares these concerns, having approved 100,000 gallons per day of sprayed wastewater serving approximately 400 homes in Lakeside, as opposed to the 540,000 gallons requested to serve 2,500 residences.
With hopes that a Reset Lakeside Resolution would be introduced at the county council meeting on Tuesday, a rally was held at the courthouse on Saturday, January 21. The resolution offered logically proposed that since the planning commission’s certification is required for a resolution to be passed by the council and their certification has been rescinded, Resolution 281 should also be rescinded.
Had their rescission occurred before Resolution 281 was passed by the council, there would be no problem. But having initially found Resolution 281 to be compliant with Talbot County’s Comprehensive Plan, it was passed by the council on August 11, 2020. Presented with additional information, the planning commission rescinded its certification on December 13, 2021. A year and a half may be nothing in a 20-year saga, but having granted rights for legal decisions and actions complicates matters.
The January 24 county council meeting included the introduction of new Board of Elections Director Tammy Stafford, a presentation by the Bellevue Passage Museum, requests for architectural and engineering services for the public safety complex, and retirement benefits for county EMTs, all followed by public comments in support of Reset Lakeside and the closing statements of our county council.
James Smullen shared comments submitted by supporters, mentioned a Reset Lakeside rally scheduled for February 4, and summarized by suggesting we “do the right thing.”
Having grown up on a farm in Trappe, William Turner recalled the east side of Route 50 being reserved for farming. That may have contributed to objections to the Lakeside development beginning two decades ago, but the town of Trappe’s current wastewater treatment concerns him now.
Retired development planning executive Tom Dennis politely insisted that the county must “get on with the business of planning.” With concerns for schools, the medical community, and public safety, he recommended the adoption of an Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance.
Susan DuPont suggested that Reset Lakeside presented opportunities to work with the Town of Trappe, and a resident of St. Michaels was concerned by Wye Mills’ record of noncompliance and years of pollution.
Chuck Powers, retired hydraulic engineer and resident of Talbot County, is concerned not only “where the water is going, but where it is coming from,” and some questionable data reported.
Bob Flowers’ commentary would be “short and sweet.” He suggested that 2,500 residences is “simply insane.” Closing statements from the council followed.
Council member Dave Stepp reported meeting with the Board of Education, Board of Elections, Parks and Recreation, and Community Center. Ice rink repairs are nearing completion, and “we should have ice this week.”
Keasha Haythe cited community efforts in support of the recent Martin Luther King Basketball Classic and Business Resources Fair and expressed concerns regarding Reset Lakeside communications.
Having sought legal counsel and MDE’s guidance, Vice President Pete Lesher has been advised that the planning commission’s rescission of its certification of Resolution 281 should have been made before the council’s approval. Likewise, Lakeside’s current permit cannot be rescinded now. But Lakeside has been delivered a setback, and we must recognize what can still be accomplished.
Lynn Mielke concurred that “our glass may be half full,” but MDE’s permit is “a win for slowing Lakeside’s progress.” The council is committed to keeping an eye on this development and exploring options.
Council President Chuck Callahan commended Vice President Lesher for his efforts and reminded us that we’re going to have a new comprehensive plan. “This council is going to take care of the county and do the best we can.”
Three phases of development are planned, but Lakeside has been put on a short leash, at least for now. 400 of 505 homes planned for phase one are currently permitted, but MDE has confirmed that further development requires permit modification and additional public scrutiny is welcomed.
The county must also approve additional wastewater treatment plans, as the County Water and Sewer Plan must be amended for change in land classification in order to become eligible for connection to a wastewater treatment plant.
Resolution 281 states, “Before the County Council may adopt the proposed amendment, the Talbot County Planning Commission must certify that the amendment is consistent with the 2016 Talbot County Comprehensive Plan.”
The 2016 comprehensive plan requires state of the art wastewater treatment for new development in Talbot County. As the passage of time can make a difference, the amendment submitted for the rescission of Resolution 281 by Talbot Integrity Project will not be considered. But resolutions the council could pass and support of our comprehensive plan are always welcomed.
Carol Voyles is a graphic designer/illustrator who retired to the Eastern Shore and became interested in politics. She serves as communications chair for the Talbot County Democratic Forum and lives in Easton.