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Hallowing Point Mobile Home Park appeals abatement order, could face closure
By SARA NEWMAN
The Hallowing Point Mobile Home Park in Prince Frederick, which has come under government scrutiny in recent months, could face closure.
Hallowing Point LLC, owner of the Hallowing Point Mobile Home Park, where Michael Mona Jr. serves as the manager, filed suit with the Calvert County Health Department on March 18 in response to an abatement order issued to the park and its owners.
On Feb. 24, the health department issued the abatement order to Hallowing Point LLC and Mona regarding the sewage disposal system at the park, claiming continued operation of the current system threatens to create public health and environmental dangers.
If the property owner fails to comply with the recent orders, the trailer park will be closed, according to a notice addressed to park residents.
“The Health Department has, through inspections, discovered significant evidence of tank and field failure to support the determination that the park’s system is in poor repair and has determined, in its expertise, that the disrepair constitutes a public health threat and that the Order prescribes the necessary means of abatement,” according to court documents.
The department “was made aware of widespread septic system deficiencies in the wake of multiple septic pipes rupturing in January 2014 accompanied by the release of raw sewage onto the Hallowing Point Mobile Home Park grounds.”
“Following this event,” Polsky’s affidavit continues, “inspections were performed by the Health Department sanitarians, who documented public health violations and dangers, including photographic evidence of raw sewage on the property.”
In the affidavit, Polsky says there is evidence demonstrating the existing septic fields are incapable of properly handling the waste generated by the residents of the park and many of the current septic tanks are severely damaged and/or do not meet state criteria for safe storage of sewage, posing a threat to public health and safety in addition to the environment. The park sits directly on the banks of a Maryland Critical Area waterway, the Patuxent River.
The abatement order requires the property owner to immediately stop using the soil absorption — drainage fields — portion of the septic system, disconnect and seal all outlet pipes from the existing septic tanks and regularly pump all sewage from the existing septic tanks, and haul the sewage to a wastewater treatment plant.
The first required action is for the property owner to submit a plan, no later than April 25, to install holding tanks to collect all sewage from the park and haul it to a wastewater treatment plant, according to the order.
Once the plan is approved, the property owner has 30 days, landing around May, to install the holding tanks and regularly pump sewage for transport and disposal. The final deadline is for the property owner to complete the construction of a permanent sewage connection to the public sewer system off Route 231, which runs adjacent to the park, by April 30, 2016.
Polsky said Wednesday the requirements and deadlines of the abatement order are currently standing, awaiting a response from Hallowing Point LLC, regarding the health department’s denial of the motion to stay.
“Our review of the file does not provide support for the county’s decision,” Charles Schaller, attorney for Hallowing Point LLC, said last Friday regarding the abatement. “It’s very clear that the county’s action was arbitrary and capricious based upon the evidence to date.”
Schaller claims the event that occurred at the park in January, which caused the temporary evacuation of several units and drew scrutiny from teachers at nearby Barstow Elementary School and, as a result, county officials as well — occurred because of the “polar vortex” and freezing temperatures and has been resolved, according to court documents.
“The plumbing issues have been repaired and inspected. The public health issues have been abated and remediated, and sewage disposal is now being accomplished by an on-site septic system in a satisfactory and safe manner,” court documents state.
“The Abatement Work, as demanded by the Health Department, would serve no public health purpose and goes significantly beyond what is needed to address the wastewater disposal needs for the mobile home park,” Mona expressed in documents in support of a motion for stay. “Furthermore, the expense associated with the unneeded Abatement Work will likely cause the mobile home park to close, resulting in the permanent displacement of more than one hundred at risk individuals.”
Inspections made after the abatement order was delivered to Mona showed more violations, according to documents submitted by Dan Williams, deputy health officer for the Calvert County Health Department.
“During recent inspections on March 26, 27 and 28,” Williams explains, “I observed several septic tanks that have collapsed or have significant settling over them indicative of immanent collapse. I also observed a number of plastic tanks. The last permit issued for a tank installation occurred in 1990. Plastic tanks have only been available for the past 15 years. This indicates that the plastic tanks have been installed without permits, inspections or approvals from this office.”
Amidst the petitions and orders being filed between the property owner and the state, residents still living in the park remain unsteady regarding their living conditions.
Though the health department claims copies of the abatement order were posted on residents’ doors in March, weeks after it was delivered to Mona, some residents said they never saw the order.
Lynda Hare and her husband, John, lived at the park for six years until Monday, March 31, when they were evicted. The couple said a copy of the order was never posted on the door of their unit, 6826.
The couple lived in a unit that had broken Plexiglas windows, holes in the walls, exposed electrical wires, a rotting porch and a sagging roof. Though their unit was not one of the several units temporarily evacuated in January because of frozen and broken pipes, Hare said their trailer had been through four heating systems and, throughout a span of three years, there was no heat at all.
The couple admitted throughout their time at the park they did not always pay their rent on time.
“Hallowing Point fully intends to cooperate and resolve any issues with Calvert County,” Schaller said. “Hallowing Point simply seeks to have a fair discussion rather than the arbitrary and biased approach the county has taken.”
Polsky said the timeline in the abatement order was determined in consultation with the Maryland Department of the Environment and both agencies felt the requirements were reasonable.
“The abatement order is still in effect,” Polsky said.