Union Bridge will help developer fight restriction State water allocation limits number of houses allowed on Carroll site

June 02, 1998|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

The developer of a Union Bridge subdivision can count on the town's help to loosen a state water restriction that limits the number of houses he can build.

Town officials said they will support developer Martin K. P. Hill if he appeals a state water allocation that effectively limits development on the 120-acre Phillips property to 184 houses, townhouses and apartments.

The original plan, submitted in 1996, called for 317 units for the property on Route 75 and Bark Hill Road at the northern edge of town. Hill submitted a revised concept plan for the development, called Jackson Ridge, last month.

The Union Bridge Planning and Zoning Commission is scheduled to discuss the plan at 6: 30 p.m. today at the town office at 104 W. Locust St. The commission meeting is part of a review process that is expected to take about three months.

James L. Schumacher, commission chairman, said the panel asked Hill to submit a plan for 317 units, despite the state's restriction on water.

"At this point in time, we're not going to fight [the limit]," he said. "There's enough to deal with in this plan now. If Mr. Hill sells all his houses and wants to build more, we'll work with the state at that time."

The property owner, Towson dentist G. Jackson Phillips, has planned to develop the tract for at least five years. The town approved a concept plan he submitted in 1996 for a subdivision that would look much like the existing town, with similar architecture and grid-like streets.

That year, Phillips chose Hill's Woodhaven Building & Development Inc. to develop the property. The project had been dormant until Hill submitted the revised concept plan.

Schumacher said the town plans to argue that the Maryland Department of the Environment's restrictions on water for the subdivision are unreasonable and contradictory to Gov. Parris N. Glendening's Smart Growth initiative, which channels development around towns.

"We have never received any such appeal that this runs counter to the governor's Smart Growth initiative," said MDE spokesman Quentin W. Banks.

Mayor Perry L. Jones Jr. favors appealing on the basis of fairness. MDE initially approved a well permit for the Phillips property that would have provided enough water for about 300 houses, then reduced the limit after well tests last year, he said.

"It's not fair to the developer to change the rules in the middle of the game," Jones said. "We'd like to see the plan move on, so once he builds that many [184], we'll help him find another well or whatever he needs to get the rest of it built."

Hill didn't appeal last year when MDE determined that the maximum amount of water that could be pumped from a well on the property was 42,300 gallons a day, 81,700 less than the developer had requested.

The developer is required to supply enough water to serve the new subdivision, so a reduction in the water allocation requires a reduction in housing units.

Hill, who never publicly explained his decision not to appeal, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

To challenge the water allocation, the developer could have conducted a longer well test to demonstrate that more water capacity was available than MDE calculated, Matthew G. Pajerowski, chief of the agency's water rights division, said when the state released its allocation.

Pajerowski said MDE based the water authorization on the amount of water that would be replaced by average local rainfall, and the need to protect the underground water supply for neighbors' wells.

Pub Date: 6/02/98

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