Commissioners turn down plea for road money City fears resurfacing will harm stream that supplies water

Safeguards not budgeted

November 06, 1998|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

To protect Westminster's drinking water from gasoline, oil, antifreeze, salt and other contaminants in road runoff, the city will have to come up with $50,000 toward a county project to improve Lucabaugh Mill Road.

At a meeting with a Westminster official yesterday, two Carroll commissioners refused to increase what the county has budgeted for the project, which would raise and resurface the road.

The city wants the county to help pay for drainage safeguards that would divert rain runoff away from a stream that Westminster taps for its water supply. Lucabaugh Mill Road intersects Route 27 northeast of the city. The stream flows south under Route 27.

Thomas B. Beyard, city planning and public works director, said Westminster might receive a donation for the project from Random House. The book publishing corporation's warehouse is near the stream.

Random House officials could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Money was at the bottom of the hard line Commissioners Donald I. Dell and Richard T. Yates took yesterday with Beyard. The drainage safeguards would bring the project's cost to $160,000.

The city offered to contribute $17,000 to cover the part of the project that affects its property. The commissioners declined to spend more than the $110,000 the county has budgeted.

Yates proposed resurfacing the road without drainage safeguards for the stream. That would cost $86,000 and bring the project in under budget.

"That takes care of the basic needs," he said.

"What's more basic than drinking water?" said Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown, who favored having the county pay costs not covered by the city's $17,000 offer or by private donations.

Dell's proposal, which was adopted after Yates concurred, was to spend the budgeted $110,000, leaving the city or private sources to cover the remaining $50,000. If the city doesn't come up with the money by Dec. 1, the deadline to award the construction contract, the county will go ahead with Yates' proposal to resurface without contamination safeguards.

"I think that's being generous," Dell said. "I've had all kinds of experiences because I voted to raise [property] taxes [in 1996]. I'm not about to dole it out."

Road runoff typically contains gasoline, oil, suspended solids, soil nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, antifreeze, metals worn from brake linings and, in winter, road salt, said Brian Clevenger, chief of program review for the Maryland Department of the Environment's Water Management Administration.

State laws and local storm water ordinances require contractors to divert runoff, he said, but the state doesn't regulate resurfacing that doesn't change the character of the runoff.

"I suspect this is a good opportunity to address this with the city and county, but as far as regulatory authority, probably not," Clevenger said.

Beyard said he believes resurfacing would increase runoff because the county plans to raise the road.

But J. Michael Evans, county public works director, predicts only a slight increase.

"This is an existing situation they wanted us to address," he said. "Could it [the resurfacing] have some impact? Yes. Is it likely to be a dramatic problem? No."

Beyard said the city frequently must close off the stream and draw water from its reservoir after rainstorms.

Pub Date: 11/06/98

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