Ecker seeks to reduce water hookup charges County would pay $2,200 for homes near landfill

November 09, 1995|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,SUN STAFF

The owners of more than 300 Marriottsville properties near the contaminated Alpha Ridge Landfill would get some financial help hooking up to public water under a proposal by County Executive Charles I. Ecker.

The proposal represents a breakthrough for landfill neighbors who fear that their wells eventually could be contaminated and who say they shouldn't have to pay for a safe water supply.

Mr. Ecker plans to announce his proposal -- which would require County Council approval -- at a public meeting at 7:30 p.m.

Monday at Mount View Middle School.

"I'm very pleased that he's continuing to move on this," said landfill activist Donald L. Gill, a University of Maryland biochemistry professor. "I don't think he'd have to go much further to give everyone what they wanted."

The proposal would waive about $2,200 in charges for water hookup for more than 300 residents. The homes could be connected to the county's water supply when the county completes its $10.5 million water system for the landfill area in about 18 months.

Mr. Ecker's proposal would leave residents with an estimated $1,900 per home in costs, most of it for pipelines from the main line to their house, plus an estimated $400 to $500 a year in water fees.

Homeowners who received building permits for their houses after Jan. 1, 1994, would not be eligible under the proposal because, by that time, the county had approved plans for public water in the area.

Gail Bates, an aide to Mr. Ecker who has been coordinating landfill policy, said yesterday that the proposal is being refined. Mr. Ecker, who was traveling out of the area yesterday, would like to hear from more Marriottsville residents before asking the County Council for approval.

When a draft of the proposal was aired last week at a meeting of the citizen panel that advises Mr. Ecker on Alpha Ridge Landfill matters, it was widely criticized for not going far enough, said L. Scott Muller, a landfill activist and member of the panel.

"Basically the committee said that was unacceptable," said Mr. Muller. He said many homeowners would not be able to afford even half the cost of hookup.

Mr. Muller said the need for water has become more urgent now that test results have shown pollution spreading more rapidly than was expected.

So far, there has been no verifiable contamination of private wells in the area. But toxic solvents migrating north from the landfill have spread under the Little Patuxent River and shown up in ground water at levels considered unsafe by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Residents at Monday's meeting are expected to greet Mr. Ecker's proposal more favorably than a proposal on another item involving Alpha Ridge, to be outlined by the county Deparment of Recreation and Parks.

That plan calls for the construction of a model airplane park on a closed section of the landfill, with a parking lot, grandstand and paved runways. That proposal angered members of the citizen panel who heard it last week.

"It's like the last insult," said Mr. Gill, who complained about possible noise. He said the landfill already "has devastated this place visually and odorwise."

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