Project could contaminate water supply, official says Agency does not oppose condominium for seniors

March 04, 1998|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

An official with the agency that oversees the Washington area's reservoirs said last night that a proposed senior citizen complex in Glenwood could contaminate water supplies because it is too close to a major watershed.

But William Kennedy, an environmental affairs manager for the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, said he was only expressing the WSSC's concerns about the 116-unit condominium complex and that the agency does not oppose the project.

"We came here to raise concerns, find out details about the project," Kennedy told county officials last night. "I was never sent here to say [WSSC] was opposed to this."

The commission serves about 3.1 million people.

Kennedy testified last night before the Howard County Board of Appeals during the latest meeting in the battle over the Villas of Cattail Creek, a condominium community planned for 58 acres adjacent to Cattail Creek Country Club.

The project's developer, Donald Reuwer, is seeking a special exception from the board to construct the project.

Kennedy said he couldn't address specific problems with the site because he hasn't seen detailed plans.

But he said that WSSC officials are concerned about proximity to the watershed and the project's effect on sediment runoff, septic backups and how high nutrient concentrations might affect water supplies.

Under direct examination by Susan Gray, a Highland activist opposed to the complex, Kennedy said the project would be built about "three river miles" from the Patuxent River and Triadelphia Reservoir, which is managed by WSSC.

But the official's testimony was heard by only a dozen people. At the first meeting in December, about 75 packed a small meeting room in the Howard County government building.

Residents and Reuwer expressed differing views about why fewer people attended last night's session.

"The opinion of the public is this has already been decided and they're not going to waste any more time," said Amy Lane of Countryside Drive, who has attended every meeting.

But Reuwer said meetings with residents last month convinced them of the project's benefits.

Glenwood residents say the project will bring too much traffic to busy Route 97, damage ground water and harm the environment.

Under the special exception, only residents older than 60, or married to someone older than 60, would be allowed to live in the 1,800- to 2,000-square-foot condominiums. The units would cost about $210,000.

Unlike assisted-living centers, the Villas would be designed for active seniors who need little assistance, Reuwer said.

There is no deadline for the board's decision. The next session is scheduled at 7: 30 p.m. tomorrow in the Howard County government building.

Pub Date: 3/04/98

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