Extended water, sewer service OK'd for Clarksville, Mariottsville areas

December 07, 1993|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Staff Writer

The Howard County Council took a first step last night toward bringing public water and sewer service to rural residents whose wells are polluted or threatened with contamination.

The five-member council, without debate, voted unanimously to amend the county's master plan for water and sewer service to include Clarksville business owners and Marriottsville residents who live near the county's Alpha Ridge landfill.

Toxic contaminants have been discovered in test wells at the landfill. Although none have been found in nearby residential wells, residents fear their wells could become polluted soon and have asked for public water. Wells in the Clarksville business district have been contaminated with toxic solvents since 1985.

The resolution approving the inclusion of Clarksville and Marriottsville into the master plan was one of 18 pieces of legislation approved by the council last night.

The council postponed action on two other pieces of legislation -- a resolution that would close Diamondback Drive at U.S. 29 and a bill that would include criminal penalties and double the fines paid by pet owners who don't clean up after their pets.

Action on the pet bill was postponed so the council can review the proposed fines. Some residents who testified at a Nov. 15 hearing on the bill complained that the fines for refusing to pick up after their pets were greater in some instances than the fines for cruelty to animals.

Diamondback Drive residents were so divided about the closing of their street that the sponsor of the resolution, Council Chairman C. Vernon Gray, scheduled a Dec. 13 meeting to discuss the issue.

Prior to voting on last night's agenda, the council elected Mr. Gray, D-3rd, to an unprecedented fifth term as council chairman. He served as chairman previously in 1986, 1987, 1990 and 1991. Councilman Paul R. Farragut, D-4th, was elected chairman of the Zoning Board, and Councilman Darrel Drown, R-2nd, was elected Liquor Board chairman.

Councilwoman Shane Pendergrass, D-1st, who chaired the council for the past year, was elected vice-chairwoman of both the council and the Zoning Board. Councilman Charles C. Feaga, R-5th, was elected vice-chairman of the Liquor Board. The five council members also serve as the Liquor and Zoning boards.

In other action last night, the council unanimously approved providing shared sewage disposal facilities in clustered BTC developments in the rural, western part of the county.

The council also voted 4-1, with Mr. Feaga dissenting, to require cable franchise operators to provide prompt, efficient service and understandable, accurate billing. Mr. Feaga objected that cable operators could be given escalating fines for poor service. There is nothing to indicate that fines are necessary to force compliance, he said.

Mr. Gray said he was voting for the fines with the understanding that the county cable administrator will use discretion in levying fines. The bill calls for the same fines regardless of the infraction. But Mr. Gray said severe fines should be levied for severe infractions.

The council also passed resolutions that urge state officials to "minimize the negative impact" of federally mandated clean air standards and to accept the school system's proposed capital budget for fiscal 1995. It approved another resolution urging motorists to stop at red lights. Mr. Drown reluctantly voted for the red-light resolution, saying, "It is indicative of our societal breakdown when we have to tell people to stop at red lights."

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