LETTER: Staff Misled Supervisors on Waste Management

April 13, 2015

DEAR EDITOR,

It has been a little over a year since over 400 people crammed into the auditorium of the Northampton County High School for a public hearing on the then-new proposed complete re-writing of our county’s zoning ordinance. The majority of those attending and testifying at the meeting were quite perplexed at why they had been shut out of the rezoning process during the preceding year, and expressed frustration with the many changes proposed by staff and our new economic development director.

In a thinly veiled attempt to involve residents at the midnight hour, several weeks ago county planning staff conducted “public information sessions” that were held in the north and south sectors of the county. These meetings were expertly covered in the Wave by Wayne Creed.

During those sessions and after being shown maps, charts and other confusing fact sheets, those attending were encouraged to submit their questions and comments in writing to staff and the Board. Within 10 days after the sessions ended, over 116 comments had been entered into the official record, and the planning and zoning staff subsequently prepared a briefing paper for the Board of Supervisors which not only summarized the comments received but also attempted to offer a response to each of the points raised.

Overwhelmingly, those submitting comments were most concerned about the term “waste related” which is proposed as an allowable use in agricultural and industrial zones in the proposed zoning ordinance. Concerned residents and former county officials alike expressed fear that such an open-ended land use term could allow hazardous, municipal, medical, and other waste import and incineration, as well as storage and processing. Note that the plainly ambiguous term is not included in our current zoning ordinance, nor can we find such a dangerous term in any zoning ordinance we researched.

In their March 30 presentation to the Board, planning staff orally briefed the Supervisors on many of the issues placed in the record that objected to the current draft ordinance, including the waste issue. Specifically, Zoning Administrator Melissa Kellam informed the Board that staff had adequately responded to the concerns about “waste related” and removed that wording from the draft zoning language.   She informed the Board that, because the county currently manages waste at the landfill and their collection centers, “waste” has to be addressed in the proposed zoning ordinance, hinting that if it was not, the county could no longer continue these operations. [Read more…]

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COMMENTARY
Rezoning Can Help Schools Desperate for Funds

RANDALL PARKS

RANDALL PARKS

By RANDALL PARKS
Vice Chairman, Northampton School Board

April 6, 2015

I feel that there are many citizens of Northampton County who like me are somewhat befuddled as to the rezoning issues facing us. Frankly it is difficult for me to determine which are real concerns and which are simply of the “hysterical” variety designed to frighten the voters. Attending one Board of Supervisors meeting, I heard one concerned lady tell of the possibility of instead of the present limitation of 50 homes in an area, the changes would allow for 1,200. I wondered where those 1,200 families would come from and why they would move here.

I seriously doubt that a single person can be found who does not want the protection of our environment to be of utmost concern, yet some of the dire warnings seem to be designed to scare us instead of being reasonable concerns as to our future. Obviously real “by right” concerns need to be addressed, but some of those raised by the opponents of any rezoning are, well — ludicrous. Our Supervisors are attempting to enlarge the tax base of our community as they understand the future needs of our county and are doing their best to make this happen. They have held innumerable public work sessions dealing with the rezoning issues yet are being accused of making decisions in secret. It is apparent to me that there are people living in our community who oppose any changes whatsoever.

Our world here is not simply a society peopled by members of the upper middle class and and the very rich. There are numerous citizens who work in dead-end jobs earning the minimum wage struggling to get by on a week-to-week basis. Their children attend our schools which should offer a possible way out of their circumstances but are unable to do so because of lack of community support. Middle and high school students are “housed” in a building both too small and most importantly simply crumbling around them.

Previous Boards of Supervisors have concentrated on building new courthouses, jails, offices for the bureaucrats, and social services structures — all the while ignoring the needs of our children. Seven years ago engineers alerted our then Supervisors of the impending situation with the potential failure of the walls of our high school, yet instead of dealing with the situation, they chose to use a band-aid approach which would last only a short time. Now we are faced with pouring more money down a rat hole in an attempt to make it less dangerous for our children. [Read more…]

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GUEST EDITORAL: Balance Northampton Budget

CITIZENS FOR A BETTER EASTERN SHORE

April 6, 2015

Budgets work best when the dollars coming in are equal to — or even better, are a little bit more — than the dollars going out. Spend only what you’ve planned to spend, except for real emergencies. Corporate finance people know this. Small business owners know this. Men and women running their household budgets know this. Even kids with weekly allowances know this. So, that should mean that our local governments ought to know this too – adopt the budget, know where every cent is going, and stick to it except for real emergencies. There absolutely cannot be off-budget, additional, “discretionary” spending by county administration without scrutiny and approval of the governing body.

State and local governments are usually faced with more requests for funds than there is revenue coming in – and Northampton County is no exception. The preliminary budget showed Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 revenues at $24.8 million and requests for funding for county operations and debt at $27.6 million – a shortfall of $2.8 million. The county budget is separate from the school budget, which was proposed at $20.3 million.

This equals the grand total of close to $48 million to run a county of 12,125 people, a county with a shrinking population and a declining school enrollment. If all the new funding requests had been adopted, an alarmingly large tax increase would have followed.

It wasn’t only more funding increases that caused the shortfall. Decreased revenues are likely for both county and school budgets as state-level budget-balancing transfers more required expenditures from state to local governments. Locally, lower real estate property tax revenues may occur if property values decline. And sales and personal property tax revenues may also decline below projections as families juggle their own household budgets. [Read more…]

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COMMENTARY
Chicken Litter Incinerator Causes Toxic Waste

By KAREN DAVIS
United Poultry Concerns

March 30, 2015

In the Cape Charles Wave on March 22, Ken Dufty commented on WAYNE CREED Pays a Visit to United Poultry Concerns regarding a proposal to build a chicken litter incinerator in Northampton County “aimed at giving the industrial chicken farms a purported solution for the millions of pounds of chicken manure generated annually” on the Eastern Shore. In Maryland alone, the chicken industry produces 700 million pounds of poultry litter each year, of which 300,384 tons exceed the capacity of local cropland to assimilate the phosphorous and other components of the waste, according to a study cited by Food & Water Watch in their May 2012 report, Poultry Litter Incineration: An Unsustainable Solution.

“Poultry litter” is the mixture of fecal droppings, antibiotic residues, heavy metals, cysts, larvae, dead birds, rodents, and sawdust in which the chickens are forced to sit for six weeks before they are slaughtered. According to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, used poultry litter has four times the nitrogen and 24 times the phosphorous found in pig and dairy cow operations. Dumped on the environment, this mountain of toxic waste burns fragile plant cells, poisons the water, and spawns excess algae that consume aquatic nutrients. The excess algae block sunlight needed by underwater grasses and suffocate fish in the process of decay.

Used poultry litter — which is nine parts manure by the time it is scraped out of the chicken houses after several years of accumulation — has been found to be “rich in genes called integrons that promote the spread and persistence of clusters of varied antibiotic-resistant genes,” according to a May 2004 article in Farm and Dairy.

The Food & Water Watch report on poultry litter incineration cites studies showing that burning poultry litter for electricity on the Delmarva Peninsula would almost certainly depend on taxpayer subsidies. An analysis by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources suggests that burning poultry litter “may actually produce as much or more toxic air emissions than coal plants.” The emitted poultry litter toxins are carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid, volatile organic compounds, dioxin, particulate matter, and arsenic. [Read more…]

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WAYNE CREED: I Was Wrong about Backyard Chickens

By WAYNE CREED
Cape Charles Wave Columnist

March 30, 2015

On Friday, March 20, Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM) set up their annual campaign, the 2015 MeatOut, meant to encourage the public to try a vegan diet for one day.  People from 96 countries pledged to “Eat Vegan for a Day.” This simple effort saved 1,343 farmed animals. MeatOut was soon followed by an opinion in the New York Times by Dean Ornish, clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and the founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute. Ornish’s article focused on the questionable notion that “Americans have grown fat because they eat too much starch and sugar, and not enough meat, fat and eggs.”

The implication is that consuming lean meat and animal byproducts (even those labeled organic or grass fed) is somehow “healthy.”  More recent research indicates that animal protein may significantly increase the risk of premature mortality from all causes, among them cardiovascular disease, cancer, and Type 2 diabetes, and a study published by NIH last March found a 75 percent increase in premature deaths from all causes, and a 400 percent increase in deaths from cancer and Type 2 diabetes, among heavy consumers of animal protein under the age of 65 — those who got 20 percent or more of their calories from animal protein.

According to Ornish, “Low-carb, high-animal-protein diets promote heart disease via mechanisms other than just their effects on cholesterol levels. Arterial blockages may be caused by animal-protein-induced elevations in free fatty acids and insulin levels and decreased production of endothelial progenitor cells (which help keep arteries clean). Egg yolks and red meat appear to significantly increase the risk of coronary heart disease and cancer due to increased production of trimethylamine N-oxide, or TMAO, a metabolite of meat and egg yolks linked to the clogging of arteries.”

When questioning the ethics of eating and the effect that our food choices can make, it is important to realize that those choices have much broader implications than just weight loss or personal health and well-being — they also play a big role in the health of our environment. By the numbers, one person going vegan for one year would preserve 53,900 square feet of rain forest, and save 1,350,500 gallons of water.

For many folks living on the Eastern Shore or greater Delmarva, the environmental effects of agribusiness have been a concern for some time. A report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) provides key data points on the adverse environmental aspects of animal farming, such as land degradation, air and water pollution, and loss of biodiversity. Even as agribusiness (livestock) only accounts for a relatively small proportion of the total GDP, it should still be noted that the sector still plays an important role both socially and politically in not just the poorest developing countries, but also the poorest communities of the United States. [Read more…]

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ALTERNATIVE TABLE: Fat and Scientific Shenanigans

By KAREN GAY
Cape Charles Wave Columnist

March 30, 2015

In my article of last week, I featured the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) and described how their recommended traditional diet helped me lose 50 pounds over nine months by changing my fat intake to greater than 30 percent of calories coming mostly from saturated and monosaturated fats.

alttableAs I lost my food cravings I began to do research on fat and its impact on one’s body. How could it be that for over 40 years the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) was a strong proponent of low fat diets?

In 1968, after seeing an image of a child who had died of starvation in the CBS documentary, Hunger in America, George McGovern became the chair of the “Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs” with the goal of wiping out hunger and malnutrition in the United States. In 1977 the Select Committee published the “Dietary Goals for the United States” after hearing Dr. Ancel Keys and other supporting researchers speak about the link between saturated fat and cholesterol consumption.

From 1972 to 1973 and concurrent with the Select Committee, the American Heart Association, American Medical Association, and the National Academy of Science developed the following recommendations:

  • Americans’ cholesterol is too high;
  • We should measure our cholesterol in medical examinations;
  • People considered as “at risk” should receive appropriate dietary advice;
  • At risk Americans should reduce their intake of saturated fat by substituting polyunsaturated vegetable oils;
  • Modified and ordinary foods (to support the ingestion of vegetable oils) should be available in the marketplace; and
  • More studies should be performed to determine if lowering cholesterol can reduce chronic heart disease.

1 - 1992foodpyramidThe piling on the bandwagon by these organizations led to the 1992 USDA Food Pyramid that most of us remember so well.

So how did all of these organizations arrive at these conclusions? I believe it was the work of Ancel Keys in the 1950s that started the idea that saturated fat led to the increase in heart disease. He noticed that death from heart disease dropped in areas where food rationing had been in place due to WWII and increased in industrialized areas of the world. Keys created graphs using food intake data and mortality statistics from the late 1940s using six countries: Japan, Italy, England, Australia, Canada, and the USA. The data appeared to show a correlation between the ingestion of fat and the increase in heart disease. We now call this the Diet-Heart Hypothesis which puts forward the idea that saturated fat causes cardiovascular disease (CVD) by raising blood cholesterol. He presented a graph at the 1955 World Health Organization conference that mapped fat intake to each country’s rate of death from heart disease. [Read more…]

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LETTER: Supervisors’ Complacence Threatens County

March 23, 2015

DEAR EDITOR,

My wife and I attended the zoning informational meeting at Kiptopeke School this week. While discussing the zoning with one of the Supervisors present we were told that he believes the majority of people in the county actually support the proposed zoning but are simply not attending the meetings, and that the group of people who attend all the meetings (and overwhelmingly oppose the zoning) are actually the minority. The takeaway here would seem that if you are against the zoning changes, or at least skeptical of them, you had better get to the meetings and be heard or you are assumed to be supporting them.

While expressing our concerns to this same Supervisor about the zoning changes paving the way for uses such as medical waste disposal and manure processing/incineration (just to name a couple) we were told,”Uses like that would never happen.” But if our zoning is weak and leaves loopholes, then, whether we like it or not, uses like these can and will happen and could negatively affect every resident of Northampton County.

Any use, in any district, that has the potential to
— foul and pollute our air,
— pollute the water we drink or grow our clams and oysters in,
— pollute the ground our crops are grown on and our children play on, and
— negatively impact the values of our business and homes,
should NEVER be allowed “by right.” These types of uses should always have to go through a “special use” process so that community members have the ability to change or stop, when necessary, something that is harmful to the county as a whole.

RICH GLIEDMAN
Cape Charles

Letters to the Editor are welcome, and a diversity of opinions is encouraged. Send submissions to [email protected].

THE ALTERNATIVE TABLE: How I Lost 50 Pounds

By KAREN GAY
Cape Charles Wave Columnist

This is the first of a series of columns I am calling The Alternative Table. I will discuss many topics beginning with interviews and photos of some of the new sustainable farms on the Eastern Shore and also covering what are healthy food choices and cooking techniques, recipes, important books and movies on these subjects, and alternative health options. I’ll approach these subjects from the point of view of a journalist, reporting on farms I’ve visited and topics I’ve been reading about. I’d like to be clear about the fact that I am a layperson with wide-ranging interests in these topics and not a doctor, nutritionist, or healer.

My first topic is the Weston A. Price Foundation and how it has helped my health. I understand that what has worked for me is not necessarily a weight loss solution for everyone. We all come from different genetics, cultural heritages, and physical experiences, and as a result each of our bodies operates in a slightly different manner.

At first, my friends looked at me incredulously when I explained how I lost 50 pounds by incorporating the principles of the Weston A. Price Foundation. The ingredient that did it for me was fat — lots of fat! Like most people coming of age in the 1970s I learned about the new USDA food pyramid and the need to eat less meat, dairy, and fat. I took this seriously, as my mother had always kept abreast of health trends, listening to Carlton Fredericks and Adele Davis on the radio. My siblings and I were probably the only children who went to school after a breakfast of orange juice and brewer’s yeast. Fortunately, the niacin flush wore off just as I arrived at school.

Fast forward past high school, college, marriage, kids, and a career. By the time I retired in April 2014 I was physically exhausted from raising children, coping with a really stressful career spent mostly in front of computers in dark rooms, and a commute that took occasionally more than two hours on the return trip. I was way overweight, exhausted, and my preference during non-work days was to read in bed. Somehow over the years when initially I tried to make healthy food choices I stopped reading labels and bought food primarily for convenience. I found myself looking forward to meals and snacks as replacements for fun and over time began to crave sugar and then fat alternately.

Once I got those cravings, it got to be an addiction. My drugs of choice were potato chips followed by ice cream. No matter how each day I resolved to skip the grocery store, by the time I finished work I could not resist. At the time I knew I had a problem but did not know how to resolve it. For quite a few years I was convinced that I just lacked willpower. [Read more…]

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