County Council Hears Testimony On Bill Allowing Wood Waste Recycling In General Commercial

These operations would be allowed as a special exception.


Frederick, Md (KM) The Frederick County Council on Tuesday held a hearing on a bill to allow limited wood waste recycling operations in General Commercial zones. They would only be permitted as a special exception.

The legislation came about following a complaint raised by Rick Bussard, who operates a facility on Green Valley Road in Monrovia which grinds up wood into mulch which is sold. He says he’s been in that business for 30-years when he was told by the county that his operation was not permitted because the land was zoned General Commercial. “And I don’t have no neighbors. There are no townhouses or developments. I’m in General Commercial property,” he told the Council.

In addition, he noted that the county is one of his biggest customers. “In the county, they bring stuff to me. The road departments and the school board,  they all bring material down to me to grind up to sell back to them. Why is the county trying to shut me down when they’re one of my customers? Don’t make a lot of sense,” he said.

Steve Horn, Director of Planning and Permitting, said these types of operations are allowed in Agricultural and General Industrial areas. But he says the reason they’re not permitted in General Commercial is wood waste recycling could have a negative impact on the other occupants of the General Commercial zone. “They’re some heavy equipment that’s there. There’s grinders, large piles of mulch. There are  vibrations and dust,” he said.

Horn also said this operation would be incompatible with other property owners in General Commercial. “By allowing this wood waste operations and processing the GC zones, we’re introducing some potential conflicts to other uses, the kinds of uses that are already allowed in this zone,” he said.

Some the uses allowed in General Commercial are business services, restaurants, department stores and offices.

Shawna Lemonds, Director of Development Review, said legislation like this which would allow wood waste recycling in General Commercial as a special exception could also cause other problems. “While we appreciate the situation of this specific property, by changing the code, we’re affecting all properties zoned that which is General Commercial,” she said.

The legislation is sponsored by Councilman Billy Shreve. He said too often the county’s staff is not working with local businesses to solve problems like this. “This is happening all the time. I get calls like this once a week. They do absolutely nothing to try to help these people They threaten  them with fines And all they want to do is shut them down. They do nothing  to help. And I’m sick of it,” he said.l

But Horn, said the county has offered to help Mr. Bussard. “He’s continued to operate. We’ve made available Economic Development staff to help find alternative location for the business,” he said.

And Bussard himself he might move his business to property that zoned Agriculture. “If the county would leave me alone until I move, that would be find with me,” he said.

The Council took no action on this bill.

By Kevin McManus