St. Mary’s County is moving ahead with plans to require recycling at apartment and condominium complexes of 10 units or more. The requirement would locally implement provisions contained in a bill that passed the Maryland General Assembly earlier this year.

On Tuesday the commissioners held a public hearing on a proposed amendment to the county Comprehensive Solid Waste and Recycling Plan that includes the requirement. There were no speakers on the proposal during the public hearing.

The commissioners also authorized a public hearing for a Zoning Text Amendment that would add the requirement. Currently the ordinance includes a requirement for recycling for complexes with 100 or more units, but the requirement is voluntary.

The proposal includes a $50 fine for non-compliance by the owner of the property, not the actual homeowner or renter. Commissioner Daniel Morris (R: 2nd) expressed concern about the fine. Director of Public Works and Transportation George Erichsen said, “We don’t want to be enforcers for what has been a successful voluntary program in St. Mary’s County.” The fine was included in the enabling state law.

Director of Land Use and Growth Management Philip Shire said there were about 39 properties that would be subject to the new requirements. He said a list of those properties would be updated into the ordinance three years.

Shire, when asked by Morris, said the recycling dumpsters would be supplied by the trash hauler for the particular complex. As to the added cost, he said that would be borne by the management company and it would be up to them whether they would pass the cost on to the condominium owner or apartment renter.

Erichsen said that the county is currently recycling 38 percent of its solid waste flow. He said that puts the county in the middle of jurisdictions the size of St. Mary’s but on the lower end when larger counties are added. He said he thought the county was doing well with its recycling program

“We are definitely moving in the right direction in reducing what is going into the landfill,” said Commissioner Cynthia Jones (R: 1st). Her family uses composting as part of its recycling effort.