Education panel agrees to reconsider decision on site for water tower Neighbors object to giving Hampstead land at school for 'this monstrosity'

October 15, 1998|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

The county Board of Education has agreed to reconsider its decision to give Hampstead land for a water tower.

The decision was in response to protests at last night's board meeting by homeowners who live near the proposed site at North Carroll Middle School.

"This will affect our peace of mind, damaging forever what we have worked for all our lives," Mildred Ecker told the board.

"We are relying on you to hear our plea and come to our aid," said Ecker, 70, who taught for 34 years in the county school system.

The school board voted in August to deed 0.27 acres to Hampstead for $1, and had hoped to hook up to public water as part of renovations planned for North Carroll Middle School in 2002.

But the board put that decision on hold last night.

"I'd suggest that the board hold the documents and direct the superintendent and staff to contact town officials," said board President C. Scott Stone.

The decision pleased about 20 neighbors who came to make their case at the board meeting. Many have lived for 40 years in their homes along Hanover Pike, just outside Hampstead.

They told board members that town officials never informed them of plans to put up a half-million gallon water tower at the school.

They said they learned about the plans for the tower when they went to a Hampstead Town Council meeting Sept. 9.

Residents have been working to reverse the town's decision.

Ecker said the group has collected 215 signatures from people opposed to the tower.

Last night, she held up drawings of her neighborhood with the tower sketched in, and passed them around at the meeting.

"Can you imagine having that in front of your house?" Ecker asked. "I had no idea this tower would be so overwhelming. Could you live with this monstrosity in your home?"

Town Council members Lawrence Hentz and Stephen Holland defended the decisions regarding the tower last night, saying several public meetings had been held on the issue.

"I really wish I didn't have to put a water tower anywhere," said Hentz, a civil engineer who has been studying the town's water supply for three years.

Hentz presented six possible sites for the water tower to the Town Council at the Sept. 9 meeting before he recommended the school site on Route 30.

He said the school site would mean lower costs because it would eliminate the need to buy land.

"No matter where we put this tower, a group is going to say, 'We don't want it in front of our face either,' " Hentz said.

Residents questioned why Hampstead officials had rejected another free site for the tower at the nearby North Carroll Plaza.

A spokesman for the shopping center said the owner offered to pay some of the construction costs, but town officials didn't seem interested.

Mayor Christopher Nevin has said the arrangement would require annexation of the shopping center into the town and possible rezoning.

Nevin has scheduled a meeting today with homeowners opposed to the tower.

Pub Date: 10/15/98

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