Balto. County developing proposal on sewer hookups

Plan targets Back River, Bowleys Quarters areas

April 28, 1999|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,SUN STAFF

Seeking to control growth while addressing environmental concerns near the creeks that flow into the Chesapeake Bay, officials in Baltimore County are putting the final touches on a plan that would limit sewer hookups on the Bowleys Quarters and Back River Neck peninsulas.

The proposal, to be presented next week to the county planning board, would call for hookups to be restricted largely to existing homes and to neighboring lots with vested development rights, officials said yesterday.

The board, an advisory panel, would submit a proposal to the County Council, which last month imposed a four-month moratorium on sewer hookups on the peninsulas.

The moratorium was passed to shut off development that might have accompanied the arrival of sewer lines and to protect a fragile ecosystem where modest homes have been built along the creeks that feed the bay.

The sewer lines are designed to serve about 1,200 homes -- many served by septic systems that have been failing since the 1970s. But the system has a capacity to serve twice that number, officials have said.

Michael H. Davis, an aide to County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger, estimated that the proposal to be sent to the planning board would allow development of fewer than 300 of the approximately 1,300 vacant lots on the peninsulas.

"We wanted to ensure there was no unintended development that came from addressing a health problem," Davis said.

After the County Council imposed the moratorium, a small committee of planning board members and community leaders met to develop a proposal.

"It came a long way from not allowing building at all, which is where we started," said Randy Cogar, a printer from Middle River and a member of the planning board. "That wasn't fair. Yet, we don't want mass development to occur all of a sudden."

Staff in the county's planning and development review departments, as well as its law office, worked up their recommendations.

County officials said they agreed with nearly all of the committee's recommendations. But they questioned a proposal that sewer hookups be allowed for houses that are farther inland than the planned path of the sewer lines. "That may be where we differ," Davis said.

Both groups agreed that development should be governed by design guidelines that had been suggested by County Councilman Vincent J. Gardina, a Democrat who represents the area. Those guidelines would require houses to be at least 35 feet from a road, and would establish standards for building and driveway materials.

County officials are to present their report to the planning board May 6. A public hearing is scheduled for May 20 in Towson. The board would vote June 3 on its recommendation to the County Council.

Pub Date: 4/28/99

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