Developer restrained by town Temporary order halts building permits for Hill's Farm IV

November 08, 1995|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,SUN STAFF

Citing potential drinking water contamination and unacceptable levels of storm runoff in a town park, Hampstead officials rescinded yesterday 50 building permits that would have allowed developer Martin K. P. Hill to begin building houses at his North Carroll Farms IV project.

The temporary order, which arrived shortly before midnight Monday during a closed Town Council session, bars Mr. Hill from obtaining already approved building permits for North Carroll Farms IV until:

* Storm water management systems -- which town officials say are failing -- are inspected by the county and certified by environmental officials.

* Water quality in a well to be provided by Mr. Hill to serve the 200 homes in North Carroll Farms IV meets all "primary and secondary" drinking water standards.

* The Maryland Department of Transportation tells the town under what conditions it will approve the Farm Woods Lane railroad crossing, spelling out whether the crossing's approval is contingent on the closing of another nearby road.

Town officials told Mr. Hill in a two-page letter that "as a result of these unsolved issues, each of which has a potentially significant affect on the town and its citizens, we are hereby temporarily rescinding" the building permits.

Attempts to reach Mr. Hill were unsuccessful yesterday.

On the storm water management issue, the letter said facilities have been inadequate, allowing storm water to flood portions of an adjacent town park and an area near an active town well, causing possible contamination.

The letter also said that the well Mr. Hill has designated to serve his proposed development has "been exposed to sediment-laden storm water runoff" and shows "high concentrations of nitrates."

The third issue -- railroad crossings -- has been a contentious one for years between Mr. Hill and the town. Hampstead officials said they were concerned that approval for the Farm Woods Lane crossing was contingent on the closing of nearby Greenmount Church Road, which isn't expected soon.

Town and county officials acknowledged yesterday that rescinding already approved building permits is a rarity.

"But the fact that an unusual step is taken doesn't mean that it's unjustified," said Michelle Ostrander, a Westminster attorney who was hired to represent the town government in a lawsuit involving North Carroll Farms IV and a group of citizens trying to nullify approval of the project.

The county has been reviewing the development's storm water management system in recent weeks, and that review is continuing, said Cindy Parr, a spokeswoman for the county commissioners.

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