Frontier Town expansion denied


(Dec. 22, 2017) A 213-campsite expansion to Frontier Town was put on hold this week as Worcester County Commissioners Diana Purnell, Ted Elder, Chip Bertino and Jim Bunting voted to deny a request for 71 additional EDUs to serve the campsites.

The rejection comes based on a plan the commissioners ratified in September that divides the remaining EDUs available at the Mystic Harbour Sanitary Service Area into priority categories in two areas: north and south.

Included in that plan was a transfer of six EDUs from the north area to the south, where Frontier Town is, to cover a shortfall discovered during the process of allocating the EDUs to the theme park and campground.

Sun Communities purchased 166 EDUs from the county in March at a cost of about $1.28 million to transition the park from septic to public services. Included in that deal was an agreement for Frontier Town to build, and eventually deed to the county, a pumping station to ensure wastewater flow.

Currently, Sun Communities cannot use the EDUs it purchased without the pumping station, Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Kelly Shannahan confirmed.

With that deal in place, and following a rezoning approval to provide for a 213-site campground expansion on an adjacent property, Sun Communities sought an additional 71 EDUs to service the expansion.

The problem is the south area doesn’t have 71 EDUs to sell.

According to the county, the area only has 55 remaining EDUs and the September plan ranks Frontier Town at seventh in its list of priorities, behind infill development south of the airport, vacant or multi-lot properties, Assateague Greens golf course, the Ocean City Airport, clubhouse and the Humane Society and several others.

The north area of the Mystic Harbour Sanitary Service Area has 298 EDUs left to sell.

Commissioner Joe Mitrecic moved to fulfill Frontier Town’s request by moving additional EDUs from the north area to the south based on the previous transfer of six. Mitrecic’s motion was seconded by Commissioner Bud Church. The motion was defeated as only Commissioner Merrill Lockfaw joined the idea.

Attorney for Sun Communities Hugh Cropper said he would advise his client to seek a full refund of the 166 EDUs the theme park had already purchased, the $71,000 his client supplied as a deposit on the 71 EDUs he sought and to scrap the deal to install a pumping station that would have eventually been deeded over to the county.

Jessica Wilson, enterprise fund controller for the county, which includes the water/wastewater funds, said she is not aware of the county ever offering refunds on the sale of EDUs.

The Mystic Harbour Wastewater Treatment Plant was expanded based on the county government’s ability to sell EDUs to pay back the loan used to fund the expansion. Wilson said the county needed to sell 20 EDUs per year to keep current with the loan payments.

If the loan burden is not met, the cost reverts to the taxpayers to cover. Wilson said the county could continue to make payments on the loan until July without selling any additional EDUs.

The motion to deny Frontier Town’s request succeeded along the same lines as Mitrecic’s failed motion, with Purnell, Elder, Bunting and Bertino in favor.

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