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Lumber mill next to sewered site

By JASON BABCOCK Staff writer

St. Mary’s County Commissioner Larry Jarboe (R) made the motion Tuesday to remove a $5.3 million public sewer project from plans for Charlotte Hall and New Market. The rest of the board agreed.

Charlotte Hall and New Market are designated as growth areas in St. Mary’s County’s land use plan. Charlotte Hall, along with Hughesville, is also the area where the College of Southern Maryland hopes to locate a new central campus.

Jarboe’s Charlotte Hall Lumber Co., located on industrially zoned property in Charlotte Hall, is one of six entities that in March submitted offers to sell land for that new campus.

The new campus seeks a central sewer system.

There are three private sewer systems in Charlotte Hall — one for the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home, and the other two are owned by developers Ben Burroughs Jr. and F. Elliott “Sonny” Burch Jr.

Jarboe’s lumber mill is next door to Burroughs’ shopping center property, which is served by Burroughs’ private system. Jarboe said he is not part of Burroughs’ system. Private systems are supposed to serve only one property owner.

Jarboe said Thursday keeping the public sewer system for Charlotte Hall could have only helped him rather than hurt him in selling his land to CSM.

“If we pushed forward” with public sewer, instead of removing it from county plans for fiscal 2015, “it would have been more to my benefit.”

The St. Mary’s County Public Ethics Ordinance states, “Confidence and trust is eroded when the conduct of the St. Mary’s County Government’s business is subject to improper influence and even the appearance of improper influence.”

Jarboe said, “Someone has created a perception.”

He added, “That’s [Burroughs’] private system, not ours.” Of the two private systems in Charlotte Hall, Jarboe said he has “never negotiated with anyone to connect to any of them.”

Developer John Parlett shares a private sewer system with Burch. Parlett’s company, Charlotte Hall Commerce Center, is another bidder for the College of Southern Maryland’s new campus. By removing the public sewer project for the area, “it limits the balance of the market” to those two private systems, Parlett said.

Removing public sewer from Charlotte Hall shouldn’t hurt St. Mary’s County in the effort to win the new CSM campus because Hughesville has no public sewer system either, Jarboe said.

“I put in a bid based on the fact that it’s available,” he said of his lumberyard. The property is 18 acres. CSM’s request for proposals states it is looking for 20 to 25 acres.

“What a prize that would be to have a fourth college campus in St. Mary’s County,” Parlett said, joining the Leonardtown campus of CSM, St. Mary’s College of Maryland and the Southern Maryland Higher Education Center in California.

The other entities offering property are Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative in Hughesville, The St. Charles Cos. in Waldorf, Hughesville Station in Hughesville and Jane G. Henderson of La Plata.

Jarboe and the rest of the St. Mary’s County commissioners agreed on Tuesday to table the public sewer project for Charlotte Hall until a master plan is developed for the area.

jbabcock@somdnews.com