Union Bridge balks at paying share of water improvements Upgrade would be needed by planned subdivision

September 29, 1998|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

Union Bridge government leaders balked yesterday at financing water-system improvements needed to serve a planned subdivision, despite their eagerness to see construction the town's first subdivision since World War II.

The Town Council, in a meeting with the planning commission and Manchester developer Martin K. P. Hill, agreed to seek information on the cost and size of a water storage tank to serve xTC the planned Jackson Ridge subdivision and other properties in the northern section of town.

But council members declined to commit the town to share the cost, estimated at $465,000.

Hill said he will pay for only the percentage of the tower's cost related to the subdivision's needs.

The council did not act on sewer capacity, also seen as a problem for the development.

Union Bridge has sewer capacity available for 50 additional houses, less than one-third the 187 houses Hill plans in the first phase of development and less than one-sixth the eventual total of approximately 314 single-family houses, townhouses and apartments.

Council members were leery of selling bonds to pay even a portion of the water tower, fearing that the town can't afford to retire the bonds if the subdivision isn't built as scheduled.

"If we take out a bond, how in the world are we going to make that first payment on the bond?" asked Councilwoman Kathleen D. Kreimer.

Town attorney John T. Maguire II advised the council that if it takes no action, the long-anticipated subdivision won't be built. "If you're serious about this, you need to get a consultant" to calculate the percentages of water tower costs attributable to the subdivision's needs, he said.

The council agreed by consensus to select a consultant to be paid by the developer.

A subdivision has been planned on the 120-acre tract of land along Route 75 owned by Towson dentist G. Jackson Phillips for nearly 25 years.

The plan became tangible in 1996 when Phillips had engineer and town planner David S. Thaler design a village subdivision that would have blended with the original town, with streets similarly laid out and similar architecture.

Phillips contracted with Hill in 1996 to develop the property. Hill submitted a concept plan in May for a more conventional subdivision.

The subdivision proposal is under a water restriction by the Maryland Department of the Environment, which said Hill can pump only enough water from a well on the property to serve 184 houses. More would reduce water flow in neighbors' wells, the department said.

But town officials, eager to see the subdivision built to its original size, urged Hill to submit a concept plan and promised to help negotiate a larger water allocation from the state.

Pub Date: 9/29/98

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