Environmental Committee, Town Agendas & Minutes|

Chestertown Environmental Committee

Minutes

May 9, 2024

7:00 p.m. – Town Hall

Attendees: Carole Trippe, Secethia Boardley-Davis, Laura Chamberlin, Joy Mayfield, Brad Hollomon, Liz Peterson, Margie Lance, and Mark Carper. Tom Dietz and Andy Goddard participated online.

Mark Carper recorded the minutes.

It was established that the Wi-Fi password is <toc21620>

Previous Minutes: Minutes from the April 11, 2024 meeting were accepted with an amendment to the report on the Garden Club. “Chestertown is a now certified as a ‘Bird City’” is to be changed to read that Chestertown is seeking to be certified as a Bird City.

Treasurer’s Report:  Carole Trippe – Donations of $27 were received. There is currently $745 in the account. Proceeds from the Earth Day event is still to be tallied. That amount is to be added to the Committee’s budget.

Solar Energy: Tom Dietz – The Maryland Clean Energy Center has made a proposal to assist in developing  the proposed solar project for John Hanson Road to a shovel ready status.  A MOU has been developed and a work order has been created to help the Town with technical assistance, low-cost financing, and identification of additional funding sources.   The Town Manager is planning to sign this agreement and it will take 45 days from signing to get to a final proposal.

This project looks solid financially and is compatible with the plans to convert some of the land at the site into wildflower meadows by ShoreRivers. The current estimate is that the project will yield a financial benefit of $275,000/yr to the town while providing renewable energy for town operations.

The project as currently envisioned will have a capacity of 2.6 MW and will produce between 3600 to 4300 MWHr per year.  The town’s electric needs are about 1800 MWHr/yr. So there could be 2300 to 1800 MWhr of excess production.  The current thinking is that this excess could be made available to Town residents as a community solar project.   This would potentially qualify the project for additional funding.  As an example the State of Maryland received notice of a 62 Million in Funding from the Federal government’s Solar for All which targets solar projects for low and moderate incomes households.   It was noted that the Maryland Clean Energy Center is the coordinating agency for the Solar for All Funding in Maryland.

Also a second solar opportunity was presented at the Town Council meeting on May 3.  A solar developer named Third Pillar Solar presented a  proposal for siting approximately 65 MW of floating solar arrays on the ponds at the John Hanson Road site.  This project would be operated by the developer and all electric production would be sold to Delmarva for grid use.  At this stage the project details are limited and would require much more input and discussion before it can be fully evaluated 

Transportation: Jon Hanley, read into record by Laura Chamberlin – The total cost to replace all EV chargers in Chestertown is approximately $134,000. Grant money is available and is being pursued. EvGo and ChargePoint are being asked to develop a proposal to own & operate the charging stations. The total number of EV registered in Chestertown and Rock Hall rose from 52 in 2020 to 143 in 2024. Jon will be presenting a WC-ALL course in the fall on EV ownership, with the assistance of Tom Dietz.

Water and Habitat:– A stormwater management plan continues to be advocated with encouragement that it be adopted by the Town. A Natural Lands Project by Washington College’s Center for Environment and Society (CES) is underway. It is to be near the wastewater facility. No human access is to be allowed to the preserved area. Sufficient space at the facility will remain for the proposed composting center.

Food System: Laura Chamberlin – Current activity is with the Kent County Food Policy Council (KCFPC), with a focus on securing food stables to the area food banks. CES would like to coordinate with KCFPC to expand the participation to other area stakeholders, such as farmers, etc. There may be a regional food hub available in Easton, where large-scale refrigeration is available.

Earth Day Report: Andy Goddard – With 28 venders participating, there was an estimated attendance of 500 people, an increase of 200 from the previous event. The cooperative weather, the farmers market, Town events, and the nearby pancake breakfast may account for the increase. The own contributed $500, sponsors provided $780, and vender fees came in at $485. The estimated net gain from the event is $525. A final report will be provided in June, 2024.

A discussion of how to expend the monies within the Committee budget ensued. Marketing of Committee activities, thanking of the Earth Day sponsors, purchase of mosquito dunks, and purchase of a table microphone to assist with online participation of meetings were suggested. Allocating $300 for marketing and the purchase of 200 packets of mosquito dunks was approved. CES uses a table top conference microphone kit with four daisy chain microphones. The cost is approximately $200.

Compost: – It was proposed that two, 96-gallon bins be placed in a convenient location for public access. Shore Soils would then pick these up on a scheduled basis. Possible locations discussed were Washington College, John Hanson Rd, and Bailey Park.

Center for Environment and Society Internship: Laura Chamberlin – Seeking recommendations for position duties for internship with Washington College’s CES. Suggestions included assisting with social media (Facebook, Instagram) for the Chestertown Environmental Committee (CEC); staffing the farmers market recycling booth; creating resources for promoting composting; conducting research, gathering data, and developing plans to increase Chestertown’s resiliency.

Miscellaneous:

  • Discussion of Lucy Maddox letter with questions on the proposed hotel/restaurant at 98 Cannon. Question number 4, which recommends an environmental regulatory review of the proposal received full support of CEC. David Sobers provided the following written comments on the proposed hotel
    • We should take all due considerations of the hotel site development.  With respect to the financial aspect, the Town should protect our financial interest and place the financial burden of the site development on the proposed hotel owners and have the site revert to the Town in the event of the developer’s failure to execute.  Zoning is not a significant issue as the area is already in commercial use and conformance can be achieved by a variance if necessary and should be granted as it is in the interests of the general welfare of the Town.  The area is already impacted by long historic past uses and can be managed through good planning.  On the final point of environmental impact, redevelopment allows the institution of further controls particularly with respect to storm water management either on the site or remotely, if necessary, upstream.

In closing, the site is already impacted and not the nesting site for ivory billed woodpeckers, and we should support its redevelopment as a hotel which the Town needs from a balanced development standpoint.

  • Upcoming events:
    • Tea Party: May 25-27. CEC will be assisting recycling

Meeting closed at 8:12 p.m.

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