Builder Angers Residents Worried Over Water Supply

March 31, 1991|By Daniel P. Clemens Jr. | Daniel P. Clemens Jr.,Staff writer

MONROVIA — A group of residents said they learned a new version of frustration Thursday at a second public hearing on a builder's request for a state water-use permit.

At the original hearing, a representative of Frall Developers Inc. kept mum when it came time to explain the request for the permit, needed for construction of a water-sewer system to serve a proposed 500-unit development on 516 acres just south of Mount Airy.

That angered the curious residents and prompted a frustrated state administrator to halt the hearing and order the developer to returnfor second hearing with more information.

Frall did just that Thursday.

And it left many of the 60 residents who turned out at Kemptown Elementary School in this Frederick County community frustrated and angry again.

This time the crowd grew restive because the Mount Airy-based developer's lengthy presentation devoured time the puzzled residents could have used for questions.

"The applicant (Frall)was the exact opposite this time," said Mount Airy resident Eugenia Gregory, president of the Penn Shop Regional Civic Association.

"Ididn't think there was enough time for our questions to be adequately addressed. It was very frustrating."

The school's cafeteria was reserved for the hearing from 7:30 to 10 p.m. The session began 15 minutes late, and after 100 minutes of graphs, maps, and terms such as "cone of depression," "transmissivity," and "storage coefficient," the crowd had had enough.

"It's a filibuster!" shouted a man who wasnot identified.

Many of the residents who live near the three parcels that make up the development site get their water from wells. They said they are concerned that a water system serving 500 new homes could have a negative impact on their water supply.

Frall wants todrill three 200-foot wells to serve thedevelopment with up to 90,600gallons of water a day, state officials said, with possible expansion of the system in the future.

The task of the water resources administration of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, which conducted the hearing, is to determine whether the developer's use willadversely affect nearby residents.

"If the water's not there, they won't get the permit," said Gary Setzer, director of DNR's water and mineral management program.

Data presented by Frall representatives Thursday indicated no shortage of water. An aerial-view map depicting results of tests conducted by Frall showed that the nearest residents who might be affected would see at most a one-foot drop in their wells.

"As far as I'm concerned, one foot is not an unreasonableimpact," Setzer said.

Gregory, whose home lies within the one-foot-drop area, wasn't so easily consoled.

"We're concerned about thelong-term effect," she said.

The residents also were dissatisfiedthat the state could not make assurances, based on the study, that the water supply would remain intact.

"It's not gospel," Setzer said of the study data. "Geology is an imperfect science."

Other residents said they were worried by rumors that homeowners would be forced to hook into the system if it were built, at a cost of $10,000 per home.

However, Ray Barnes, senior planner for Frederick County, said no one would be required to hook up, but could do so voluntarily if they chose.

State administrators will consider the application and testimony from the hearings and make a decision in the coming months.

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