The Carroll County commissioners received an official invitation yesterday from their Frederick County counterparts to consider participating in a regional waste-to-energy facility, a step forward in a long-term discussion in both counties on how to manage trash.
With Carroll's commissioners in attendance at its meeting, the Frederick County Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 to call for "an expression of interest" from Carroll's board.
The commissioners spent nearly two hours talking about the proposed plant, including environmental and financial concerns.
If the Carroll commissioners decide not to take part in a shared plant, the Frederick board would have to decide whether to continue pursuing the matter itself, said Jan H. Gardner, the board president.
The invitation "was not a final decision" to proceed with a waste-to-energy plant, Gardner said.
Yesterday's meeting was part of a process that has spanned several years, as both counties seek the best way to handle solid-waste disposal.
During Carroll's annual State of the County Address this year, Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge mentioned several other possibilities, including recycling, composting or continuing to transport trash to out-of-county sites.
Last week, J. Michael Evans, Carroll's public works director, told the board that the county could save money by entering a joint venture with Frederick instead of building its own plant.
A regional 1,500-ton-a-day plant - handling 900 tons for Frederick and 600 tons for Carroll - would cost Carroll about $140 million, Evans said, compared with $200 million for a solo operation.
At that meeting and yesterday, Commissioner Dean L. Minnich said he was more concerned about the environmental impact than the cost.
"I'm not yet convinced that it's safe to do this," Minnich said yesterday morning. "Before I go along with something like this, I need to have more proof than I see right now."
Frederick County Commissioner Kai J. Hagen, who opposed the vote to extend an invitation to Carroll, agreed, reiterating his own environmental concerns, such as plant emissions.
A public meeting about solid waste in Carroll is scheduled for 7 p.m. March 5 in the county office building.