Political notes — Talk shifts from growth to trash

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Source: Frederick News Post
Author: Meg Tully
Article Type:
Date Published: 08012008

I knew times were changing when Commissioner John L. Thompson Jr. asked me to pay more attention to a bottle tax than the almost-adopted New Market Region Plan. The five Frederick County commissioners were elected at the end of 2006 on platforms focused largely on managing growth. No issue was more pressing than the New Market Region Plan, which was adopted the May before their election. The plan would allow thousands more houses in a region overburdened by growth, and they said it should be revisited. Fast forward to today: a final draft of that plan is up for a public hearing at the end of the month. In the meantime, the commissioners have started tackling the growing pile of trash in the county’s landfill. They are considering building a $325 million trash incinerator, and opponents are calling for more investment in recycling instead. Suddenly, it’s become the hot political talk. Thompson wanted me to focus on his proposed bottle excise tax aimed at charging producers for the costs of disposal instead of New Market this week. It’s what’s important, he said. Virtually every conversation I have with the commissioners eventually comes back to trash. They are sending dozens of e-mails per day about trash with locals who are interested. But at least one commissioner said in one of those e-mails that politics will not be on his mind as he approaches the waste problem. “I can assure you that re-election issues will not be a factor in my decisions from now till Nov. 2010,” wrote Commissioner David Gray. “That’s just the way it is. I need adequate sleep at night.”