Monday, October 05, 2009

Sewage plant doesn't pass the smell test Residents of Cattail Creek community hope county health board will help clear the air

The strong smell of human feces that residents of the upscale Villas of Cattail Creek say sporadically seeps out of their new community sewage treatment plant is just the latest indignity after the nearly five years without a working sewage system that preceded it.

"It's just never-ending," said Renee Parcover, one of the 55-and-older residents of what was intended to be an idyllic group of 93 retirement homes next to a country club and golf course in bucolic western Howard County.

"It smelled like a sewer," on Sept. 24, Sue Ann Folks told the county's Board of Health on Tuesday night, during a 4 1/2 -hour hearing on whether the smell is a nuisance worthy of a daily fine. A four-year resident, Folks said she and her husband have not built a deck or patio at their house because of the "really strong odor." The hearing is to continue Wednesday.

The developer, represented by attorney Alexander E. Adams, has simultaneously argued that the odor is minimal and not abnormal, and that the developers, represented by managing partner J. Thomas Scrivener, are trying to eliminate it.

Since the 58-acre site is far beyond the reach of public water and sewer pipes, the developers got a state permit and built a small shared sewage treatment system for the 25 detached homes and 68 townhouses. But that plant never worked, requiring up to five trucks a day to pump sewage out of a tank and haul it away until a new plant was built last fall.

The new facility consists of a small brick building, gray tank and large white pipe, all of which sits behind a bright white plastic fence and a row of pine trees at the end of Player's Way, a street of smartly designed and decorated homes.

All seemed better this year until warm weather hit in June, residents say, when the unpredictable episodes of repulsive odors began seeping from the plant.

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