charlotte hall metal and scrap

If your employees use a fire hydrant, expect a fine

California, MD – After being on the agenda three other occasions, Doug and Kim Harris have finally gotten resolution to their issue with St. Mary’s County Metropolitan Commission (MetCom) on Thursday, Nov. 17. A balance of $500 will be paid to settle their debt with MetCom. However, it was not without much debate, contention and disagreement among the commission members over how to settle his balance owed MetCom.

It is illegal for citizens or their employees to access water from a fire hydrant under any circumstances. The owners and employees of Charlotte Hall Metal and Scrap have been found negligent in legally assessing water through a hydrant located near their property. Mr. Harris stated that water from the hydrant was used by his employees to water trees and plants along the border in to his property.

An apologetic Doug Harris explained “I tried to pay the fine and it was not accepted.” Due to problems with the previous legal counsel of MetCom, Harris was prevented from settling this issue sooner than later. Harris stated that Attorney Jackie Meiser told him to “bring $1000 down to the MetCom office because the situation would not end, until she said so.”

After one verbal warning and a written citation, I think the message was clear from MetCom board member John Carey, “What are you going to do to ensure that this does not happen again?” Harris stated that he spoke with all employees in a special meeting about this issue and informed them not to use the hydrant.

Leaks can be expensive and Donny Burch of Mechanicville Car Wash has recently found that out the hard way. Burch had a $32,000 leak a few months ago from a malfunctioning peddle that was attached to a water line in the car wash.

However, should Burch be totally responsible for paying for this “oops!?”

After, a motion that ended in a tied vote and a motion that failed – the commission finally agreed on reducing his bill to $3,000.

Burch appeared before MetCom on Nov. 17 to ask for a leak adjustment on the remaining balance amount of $11,132.63. Burch, being an upstanding customer of MetCom has already received an $18,000 leak adjustment on the original bill, as well as made a payment of $29,000.

Burch realized something was wrong when he received an outrageous bill, not just one month but two months in a row! He contacted MetCom and asked if the meters could be read again because there had to be some type of error.

A puzzled Burch stated that “I was told that the well in the area kept going dry. If that was the case, wasn’t more diligence put forth on MetCom’s part to find out why before this continued to get worse?”

The water that leaked out due to the malfunctioning peddle ended up running back into the sewer system causing no damage. The 45 gallons of water a minute that was lost, simply flushed the water system near the Mechanicsville Car Wash.

Clearly, MetCom’s system could not and did not detect that there was a problem at Mechanicsville Car Wash. Going forward, a cautious Burch stated, “I have my staff reading the meter daily and recording the numbers at the beginning of the day on a chart.”

However, Burch stated “It is difficult to know how accurate the meter is because I have not received my October bill yet and half of November is over.”

MetCom employee Becky Shich spoke up saying, “We experienced a computer glitz and this has delaying the bills from being mailed out.

Commissioner Carey stated that the entire situation with Mechanicsville Car Wash is an example of being “environmentally irresponsible and MetCom needs to take it seriously and use the technology that helps to identity these types of problems because they cost a lot of money.”

Contact Shertina J. Mack at