Wicomico residents pursue legal action after massive sludge tank built in neighborhood

WICOMICO CO., Md. – About a dozen residents in the Hebron-Mardela Springs area are raising a stink over a massive sludge tank that was built in their neighborhood. Many say they were misled to believe things wouldn’t be as bad as they say they are.

“Well on bad days they wrinkle their little noses up and say ‘it’s stinks out here’ and we all run inside,” says Lynette Kenney, a plaintiff and neighbor.

Kenney says her grand kids and countless neighbors can no longer enjoy time outside ever since a three-million gallon waste tank started operating in March. “Flies like you wouldn’t believe. Flies that drive them out of their yard,” says Pamela Olszewski, a neighbor.

Neighbors say tankers are often driving up and down the windy country roads to drop off the waste, creating traffic safety concerns. They’re also worried how all of this may impact their property values. “People will be hesitant to want to come in and purchase homes or purchase lots,” says Olszewski.

Some residents, like part time farmer Kenny Robinson, understand sludge tanks are just part of the agriculture business. “My problem is how the tank was put here without anyone in this neighborhood knowing it was even coming,” says Robinson who is also a plaintiff.

He feels the county was given false information during the application process and this isn’t what was approved. “First of all he said he wasn’t going to disturb more than one acre and that’s not true. There‘s probably an acre and a half to two acres that’s been disturbed. If it was over an acre it would have to have storm water management. He was exempt from that because of that,” says Robinson.

When 47 ABC first covered this story in May of 2019, county officials said there wasn’t much they could do because it followed current zoning laws. However, now these neighbors are asking the court to be the judge of that by submitting an appeal to the circuit court to see if the operation violates county law. “A tank like this could go up anywhere in the county on any agriculture land and anybody who lives near agriculture or in agriculture this could be their next-door neighbor as well,” says Kenney.

We’re told next week a judge will start the process of deciding whether this situation goes to the Wicomico County Board of Appeals or not.

47 ABC reached out to Wicomico County Zoning and Planning today about this but we have not heard back yet. Again, the residents don’t necessarily believe this legal action will shut this sludge tank down but they hope it may change zoning laws for future tanks.

Categories: Local News, Maryland