Solid Waste: County said no to the incinerator. What’s next?!

As most of you probably remember, not so long ago Frederick County planned to build a very expensive, 1,500 tons per day, regional mass burn, “Waste-to-Energy” incinerator for Frederick and Carroll Counties, that would reduce the municipal solid waste in both counties to ash.

No more worries about our landfill reaching capacity. No more hauling waste to a landfill somewhere else. A panacea, it was thought by some. And then, over time, and for a variety of reasons, that solution to our solid waste problem fell apart.

So, now that the incinerator option is off the table, the question we have to ask, and answer, is “what’s next?”


To answer that question, County Executive Jan Gardner established a new process, and appointed a special steering committee: the Frederick County Solid Waste (Options Study) Steering Committee (SWSC), generally referred to as What’s Next. To assist with the project, County Executive Gardner hired a consultant to work with the steering committee and the public in identifying and developing a “sustainable and robust long term solid waste program for Frederick County.”

The committee has ten members and one alternate. Two of those members, former county commissioners, also serve as advisors. Two members plus an alternate are from the Solid Waste Advisory Commission and two members are from the Sustainability Commission. Members are: Peter Blood, Vice Chair; Don Briggs, Mayor of Emmitsburg; Ellis Burruss, Brunswick Councilman; John Daniels, Chair; Patrice Gallagher; David Gray, former County Commissioner; Kai Hagen, former County Commissioner; Phil LeBlanc, Joe Richardson and Chris Voell. Pat Miglio serves as alternate.

Solid Waste Steering Committee (Not pictured: David Gray)

Solid Waste Steering Committee (Not pictured: David Gray)

The committee began meeting in June. Our first task was to review the responses to the county’s request for proposals and recommend a consultant for consideration by the county executive. The committee recommended Geosyntec and County Executive Gardner accepted the committee’s recommendation. We have had several planning meetings with the consultant and county staff to first outline how the county is currently managing solid waste, and then develop topics for the public forums.

The study is divided into three phases:

  • Phase 1: Community Outreach and Brainstorming (public forums)
  • Phase 2: Detailed Analysis and Projected Cost of Alternatives
  • Phase 3: Development of Design-Bid-Build or Design-Build-Operate

PLEASE NOTE: The committee is tasked with Phases 1 and 2. The requirements for Phase 3 of the study are dependent on the outcomes from Phases 1 and 2. Therefore, the scope of Phase 3 and the committee’s involvement is not known until the completion of Phase 2.


The members of What’s Next are in agreement: we want to have an exchange of information and opinions about the issue of solid waste management with you, the residents. That is exactly what we intend to do in the first phase. Working with our consultants, What’s Next has scheduled, in various parts of the county, a series of five facilitated solid waste public forums.

The public forums are designed to provide the opportunity for you to ask questions and to share with the committee your concerns and choices for managing solid waste in Frederick County. We hope you will plan to attend one or more of these forums: Nov. 9 (7:00 pm) at Winchester Hall; Nov. 19 (7:00 pm) at Oakdale High School; Dec. 7 (7:00 pm) at the Brunswick Fire Company; Jan. 11 (7:00 pm) at Urbana High School; Jan. 23 (10:00 am) at the Thurmont Town Hall.


The steering committee and GeoSyntec consultants are currently developing material for the forums. This will include a factsheet and a background document that will be made available on our web site: as well as at the public meetings.

The forums will be facilitated and documented by our consultant. Each forum will open with a project overview and a presentation of how Frederick County is currently managing its solid waste, followed by a review of the meeting process and expected outcomes. A brainstorming session will follow with a series of focus questions to get the conversations going, and will include the opportunity to both rank criteria you think should be considered, and specify your choice(s) for managing our solid waste. The last part of the public forum will be a short review of the process/options and rankings by the audience.

We hope you will participate with us in making this important decision for the residents of Frederick County. We need and value your input!

The committee will report back to the community on the plan for Phase 2 as we approach the completion of Phase 1.

John Daniels is chair of the Frederick County Solid Waste Steering Committee

(click on the image to open a larger version)

(click on the image to open a larger version)