Mountain Christian Wastewater Dispute Sparks Legislation | WYPR

Mountain Christian Wastewater Dispute Sparks Legislation

Dec 31, 2019

Mountain Christian Church in Harford County
Credit John Lee

The Mountain Christian Church controversy, which caused a rare public disagreement between Baltimore and Harford Counties, is leading to legislation in the General Assembly. It would require the Maryland Department of the Environment to contact localities that would be directly affected by proposed wastewater discharge permits. 

 

 

 

When Mountain Christian, a mega church in Harford County, wanted a permit for a wastewater treatment plant, it caused an uproar in the nearby Kingsville area of Baltimore County. What really irked some of the residents is that they hadn’t known early on about the project. MDE had not notified Baltimore County, even though the discharge would flow into the county via the Little Gunpowder Falls.

 

Opponents packed two public hearings and The Baltimore County Council passed a resolution opposing the project. 

 

Although MDE officials assured residents the wastewater discharge would be safe, many remained unconvinced. Mountain Christian eventually withdrew its request for a discharge permit.

 

Now Baltimore County Delegate Dana Stein, a Democrat, is introducing legislation to require MDE to notify affected localities, saying it just makes sense.

 

“Just because it happens to be across the line from the location of the project, it still should be notified,” Stein said.

 

The proposed legislation would give MDE some wiggle room because it can decide if a locality is directly affected.

 

“If in MDE’s judgment the impact on some place that’s so far downstream would be minimal, then MDE wouldn’t have to provide notice,” Stein said.

 

MDE spokesman Jay Apperson said in a statement that the department does not comment on potential legislation.

 

“However, we have discussed notification with Delegate Stein and we are committed to robust engagement with citizens and stakeholders to help deliver the best environmental results,” Apperson said.

 

The General Assembly returns to Annapolis January 8.

 

Audio will be posted by the end of the day.