Metcom’s Willing & Russell trash trailer park, low-income people and the elderly

California, MD - The St. Mary’s County Metropolitan Commission voted 3-2 Thursday afternoon Feb. 16 in favor of a proposal to assist Smithfield Park , L.L.C. and its family residents with an alternative sewerage financing proposal despite resistance from several commissioners.

The Smithfield Park trailer court has been in existence for over 50 years and has an antiquated sewer system but is located in The Lexington Park Development District.

Sewer plans have been approved for the mobile home park to connect to the Lexington Park Development District central sewer facility better known as the  Marley/Taylor plant since 2011.

Recently The Marley/Taylor Plant achieved  a much-needed certification for the nutrient-removal upgrade required by Federal and State law at the cost of up to $40 million from taxpayers and grants.

Since that certification, the state has been working to initiate a pilot program that would allow these low-income residents along with the developer to utilize Bay Restoration Funds to solve the failing system and allow connection of this property.

Smithfield Park L.L.C was represented by Philip H. Dorsey III, a local attorney who made a request to the Board to utilize 2011 Capital Contribution Charge rates since plans were approved then and were in fact grandfathered to help make the project economically feasible.

The applicant has and will coordinate all construction with the neighbors and residents and will foot the bill for the project and will be reimbursed dollar for dollar up to a 50 percent match by the state.

The savings would be close to  ($60,000, which would make the project feasible based upon the Metcom vote. In addition in the future if there was an apartment project designed the developer would have to pay the going rate.

Commissioner John Carey, who guided the vote with sound logic, said, “this is a no-brainer. We will get 17 new customers and we will help the community as a whole by ensuring that they have adequate facilities. When and if a project is built we will get more than we are investing.”

Dorsey previously pointed out in his presentation “ that these low-income/elderly residents only require one toilet, unlike a  brand-new single-family home and in addition The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission has a program acknowledging this and also has exemptions for the elderly.”

Metcom’s Capital Contribution Charge and financial mismanagement have been the subject of deep controversy over the last several years because of the questions presented as to how these charges are calculated and the fact that MetCom has provided the public with no valid information or alternative calculation for the 500 percent increase over the last 10 years, unlike other jurisdictions.

Commissioner Mike Mumaugh made the motion  to approve the project  and stated, “we have been trying to help the community for over three years with these outrageous charges and it’s time we think outside the box. If you take a look at Metcom’s history, you will see that they bent over backwards helping people in Compton in years past similar to this proposal.”

Recently Mr. John K. Parlett, local developer delivered a very substantial  and compelling argument over the inflated Capital Contribution charges which thwart growth. He pointed out that if these current rate changes go forward, there will be nothing built because he can go to Charles County and build it for much less as far as the Capital Contribution Charge.

Commissioner Steve Willing, board member and past chairman under whose watch most of the increases occurred, was adamant  in that he didn’t support the request to assist these low-income residents and said this  “trailer park is loaded  criminal activity” even though he had no statistics or first-hand knowledge and added if the commission helped these people out they would open up “Pandora’s box”

In addition Commissioner Bob Russell argued that the developer should pay the full freight and wanted to vote against the project. Commissioner Russell appeared shell-shocked when he was told that he couldn’t vote at Thursday's meeting because he had assumed the role of chairman.

Commissioner Russell had raised conflict issues because, he stated, the current chairman is a close friend of Mr. Dorsey and  according to sources close to the debate is believed to be the board member who contacted the Enterprise newspaper to report what he believed to be a conflict.

The entire process reflects the terrible leadership of these two board members, said one county resident  who  reflected that “it is a bad day in county government when one board member has to call the newspapers to report untruths and actions by the board without first checking with their attorney.”

The community is anxiously awaiting the installation of Mr. George Erichson to “right the ship,” according to this same source. Erichson starts this week.

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