Sunday, December 4, 2016

Composting May Come To D'ville

From the Capital-Gazette:
County Council Bill 75-16 would make it possible for Veteran Compost, an Aberdeen-based composting business, to open a location in Davidsonville focused on composting horse manure. The company has a $350,000 state grant to open a composting demonstration site and public education center on a 100-acre farm owned by Homestead Gardens and plans to invest $200,000 of its own money into the project.
"There's a tremendous opportunity to serve the environment," said Brian Riddle, owner of Homestead Gardens.
Neighbors of the site say they're all for composting but they worry that the regulations offered under the proposal won't do enough to protect them against potential consequences such as odor, truck traffic and water contamination.
"None of us is against composting," said Dee Davis, president of the Governors Manor Community Association, which represents a neighborhood down the street from the proposed composting site. "We just don't know if this is the right location to do composting."
At a recent council hearing, about a half-dozen residents said they were not comfortable with the bill as it exists and asked council members not to approve it unless additional protections could be added.
Davidsonville resident Kate Fox said the council should spend more time on the zoning change.
"I'm wondering, what's the rush on this?" she asked. "I urge you to not pass this bill, and let's rework it."
The bill, sponsored by Councilman Jerry Walker, R-Crofton, would allow composting of materials classified as Tier 1 and Tier 2 under state law on land zoned rural agricultural. Tier 1 materials include yard waste such as leaves and twigs, while Tier 2 includes food scraps, nonrecyclable paper, manure and compostable products.
The measure has changed several times in response to community concerns.
Council members amended the bill to limit the size of composting operations to 10 acres and a maximum of 25 percent of a plot of land. They also decided to ban composting of dead animals brought from off site, as well as industrially produced food processing materials such as chicken and seafood scraps.
And they added a provision that would require composting facilities to abide by fire prevention code requirements set by the fire marshal.
Most of the setback requirements mirror the state's: composting facilities would have to be at least 300 feet from a dwelling not owned by the owner of the composting facility and 100 feet from water sources such as wells and streams. The legislation would require more distance — 100 feet as opposed to the state-mandated 50 feet — between the facility and property lines.
Council members have until Jan. 7 to vote the bill up or down before it expires. They will discuss the legislation at their next council meeting, held Monday at 7 p.m. in the Arundel Center.

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