Neighbors in West Wicomico County can act together to improve the quality of life in their communities.
Tuesday, September 8, 2020
CIRCUIT COURT UPDATE
(The following is an account of the hearing in Circuit Court held September 2, 2020 written by one of the witnesses to the hearing.)
"There was an administrative hearing September 2nd in Circuit Court regarding the DAF (sludge) tank on Porter Mill Rd. It was heard by Judge Seaton who had the case reassigned to her the evening before the hearing. She hadn't the chance to review the case in depth so she asked a lot of questions.
In a nutshell, our argument was that the Rules and Regulations of the Wicomico County Board of Appeals, which hears appeals from people opposed to the issuance of building permits etc., fail to comply with aState lawthat requires a board’s Rules and Regulations to state the time (days) after the issuance of a permit in which an appeal has to be filed with a board. Wicomico County failed to state a time period in its Rules and Regulations and is arguing that a 30-day time period mentioned not in its Rules and Regulations but elsewhere in the County Code is sufficient. Simply stated, our argument is that Wicomico County must follow State law.
Judge Seaton did not rule from the bench but will hopefully have a decision within the week. If it's in our favor, the appeal will be sent back to the Board of Appeals where we will be able, in open forum, to state our opposition to the building permit. If the ruling goes against us, we still have other options.
There is also a Declaratory Judgement filed against the tank. If allowed to pursue the case and we decide to follow through with it, the building permit itself will be opened up to scrutiny. Subpoenas and interrogatories will be allowed. We will be able to present the information and details which we have been able to uncover since the permit was issued in near record time in May 2019.
Meanwhile, the tank is up and operating. This is contrary to the assertions of the Owner, County and State officials and agency employees and politicians that the tank would only be in used during the time that DAF is not permitted by law on the fields (mid December through the end of February). It then would be emptied in about 8 days to sit idle for the rest of the year. (Try to empty a 3 million gallon tank using 6500 gallon tankers in 8 days. You do the math to see what kind of traffic that would involve.) We see tanker trucks up and down Porter Mill and Riggin Roads numerous times a day. Tankers are up to the tank during the day and during the night. There are drivers who are very conscientious but there are times it is not a pleasant experience while meeting them oncoming on both Porter Mill and Riggin. They take up their side of the road and part of the other. You must come to a crawl or stop altogether on the grass to get out of their way. We can hardly wait til the snow and ice cover our roads when there is absolutely no where to get off the road without slipping or sliding. And what about the stink? Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. You never know until you step outside if the stench is there and how bad it will be. And some days it's so bad it follows you in the house. Whichever way the wind blows is who is in the path of the stench. This time of year it has been mainly up Porter Mill toward Athol and on Riggin. Want to plan a birthday party or cookout or even a wedding reception outdoors on your property? Better put a disclaimer in the invitation that it might stink.
Again, I reiterate--there is currently nothing, not a thing, nada from preventing another tank such as this from being erected anywhere in this County on agricultural land. And their assertions that another tank will not be needed doesn't hold water. Does the poultry industry plan to expand? Is Valley Proteins expanding? Where will their DAF go? Most likely it will go in storage in Wicomico County. If you haven't already, join us in the fight to put guardrails on the practice of applying DAF on the farmland and storing it in our County."
We still need help paying legal fees and would appreciate any amount you can spare. Contributions to the Neighborhood Action Group should be sent to: NAG 24790 Porter Mill Road Hebron MD 21830 All contributions will remain anonymous and our books are open to show how we spend your money.