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The Tentacle


June 1, 2016

Non Business Friendly Frederick County

Guest Columnist

Kirby Delauter

 

I think our County Executive Jan (please take your business elsewhere) Gardner has forgotten who pays the bills in Frederick County.

 

Recently there has been all out assault on business here. My email in-box overflows with pleas from local businesses that are questioning themselves everyday as to why they continue to employ people in, and do business in, Frederick County.

 

Let me run through just a few examples of the insanity. Then you can ask yourself, if you were going to take on the risk of owning a business, would you do so in Frederick County knowing the attitude toward you would be negative.

 

Example number one, J&J Trash Service, Inc., a local refuse hauler that has had a large segment of its business banned from dumping at the county landfill.

 

J&J has a large contract with a firm in Frederick that receives used government surplus furniture, dismantles it, reuses what they can, recycles what they can and scraps the remainder. The scraps are placed in a dumpster on their site, picked up by J&J and hauled to the Frederick County landfill. Recently J&J was told by the county that they could no longer haul this material to the landfill’s transfer station because it is “out of county trash.”

 

Now, before I go into the insanity of this decision, I have copied here, the code that references the landfill permitted uses. It reads:

 

The out of County provision is in §1-11-33.

 

§ 1-11-33. PERMITTED SOURCES OF REFUSE.

For those persons, firms or corporations or other entities in the business of collecting and transporting garbage and refuse, only refuse which is collected within the confines of Frederick County shall be eligible for disposal in county-owned or controlled refuse disposal facilities, with the exception that any refuse collected within the limits of the Town of Mount Airy, Maryland may be deposited in a Frederick County refuse facility in view of the inter-county boundaries of the town.

(Ord. 80-26-178, 9-9-1980; Ord. 14-23-678, 11-13-2014)

 

Now, any person who can read could read this and understand that it says, “refuse which is collected within the confines of Frederick County” should mean that refuse which is collected within the confines of Fredrick County…….correct?

 

J&J is collecting the refuse from this business within Frederick County, and the landfill personnel is refusing the refuse….so to speak. Their argument is that this material is brought from out of county, to this business’ location in Frederick, so, they consider that “out of county “refuse.

 

Let’s just say you buy into that logic, if that’s true, then wouldn’t you say the old couch you bought at a furniture store in Gaithersburg and picked up at your house by a local furniture store in Frederick after your new couch is dropped off, they then dispose of the old couch at the Frederick County landfill. Wouldn’t this then be considered “out of county refuse?”

 

It wasn’t purchased here. It wasn’t manufactured here, but, it was collected here. Just like the contracted refuse J&J is being denied, many other haulers are not. J&J is in a bind. They have a contract to remove the refuse from this business that is located within the county, but being denied access to the landfill in Frederick County. The refuse per load, at an average dollar amount is say, $1000. The county is foregoing hundreds of thousands of dollars over something they are clearly incorrect according to their own code.

 

Here is example #2!

 

A local Fire and Flood renovation company is being barred from hauling into the landfill as well because they were told that their refuse could start a fire in the landfill. They’ve explained to the powers-that-be within the landfill system that (a) a lot of their refuse is “water” damaged and what refuse they have from fires has been soaked by county fire trucks during the fire.

 

Also, when they go to remodel, it is weeks after the insurance companies have investigated along with the fire marshal. There are no burning materials that they are in contact with or hauling.

 

Yet, in spite of never having started a landfill fire with their refuse, they are banned from hauling into the county landfill. Once again, we lose out on revenue because we “assume” the worst in business instead of working with them to create an environment where they can thrive and pay……..taxes.

 

 

Here is example #3 – Shade Trees and Evergreens –

 

Recently a top Maryland wedding venue Shade Trees and Evergreens has been forced to close because of an issue with permitting and zoning. They transitioned into a wedding venue on their farm 10 years ago when the Obama/Gardner economy took ahold in Frederick County and made doing business here as a landscape company (or any other business) nearly impossible.

 

In the transition for survival, Shade Trees started a wedding venue on their farm, hosting weddings for those wanting to tie the knot. Over the last 10 years, they built this business and became one of the best venues in Maryland, booking hundreds of weddings annually, employing people and paying taxes on the land.

 

Recently it was discovered by the county that Shade Trees was not within the proper zoning, and did not have the proper permits to operate this venue. Yes, 10 years after the fact the long arm of regulation caught up to them.

 

The owners sent me an email which I posted on social media, showing their plea for help to resolve the issue. County Executive Gardner stepped in and with her degree from Notre Dame and all her business acumen, promptly shut the business down costing hundreds of couples unneeded stress, and also hundreds of jobs, not to mention the lawsuits that will follow.

 

Now you can say, Mr. Delauter, you know damn well Shade Trees knew they were operating illegally and it’s their fault!

 

I could say that, but I know all too well being in business in Frederick County for 30 years how many times the county has showed up on our jobs and stated the rules have changed without notice. That’s right, they changed county code, no notification to business owners effected, just do as we say, and get over it. Oh, and pay a fee of course.

 

So, I can see where over the years a business could have gone under the radar and with the myriad of regulations these days, from how the shutters should look on your house, to how tall your fence can be, how often to mow your grass, to a zoning violation, it can be easy to overlook something. In this case, I think the county executive should have issued an Executive Order to let the business finish out this year, and in the meantime have county staff work with them to bring them into compliance. This would not have caused them harm while allowing them to get their affairs in order.

 

An Executive Order, you say, Mr. Delauter, that’s going a bit too far isn’t it?

 

Not really, it only took her one day after the Ethics Commission issued a favorable opinion on my local business, for County Executive Gardner to overturn that opinion by Executive Order.

 

My point is, County Executive Gardner will use executive orders to hurt business and target those she doesn’t agree with, and she will NOT use executive orders to hurt business and target those she disagrees with.

 

I’ve just given you three of many examples as to why Jan Gardner is bad for business in Frederick County. While she is on track to spend $70M - $100 million more of your tax money in her four year term as executive, she is also killing the businesses that produce the revenues she spends like water through a fire hose.

 

This is not a good combination and simple math will tell you this is why I am seriously considering a run for county executive in 2018. We need business people involved in politics at all levels. You’re seeing it on the national level and you will be seeing it on the local level simply because we are running out of other people’s money.

 



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