Board supports church keeping county service

Water-sewer bill targets Covenant Baptist property

June 18, 1999|By Alice Lukens | Alice Lukens,SUN STAFF

In the latest development in a long battle between Covenant Baptist Church and its neighbors-to-be, the Howard County Planning Board unanimously voted yesterday that the church's land off Centennial Lane in Ellicott City should remain in the county's public water and sewer district.

The board's recommendation will be given to the Howard County Council, which will vote on the matter next month. The council will hold a public hearing Monday night.

Several weeks ago, two Howard County councilmen, Democrat Guy J. Guzzone of southern Howard and Republican Allan H. Kittleman of western Howard, filed a bill to remove the church's property from public water and sewer service because they wanted to prevent Covenant Baptist from building a controversial senior housing complex on it.

The housing project was already in jeopardy because the Planning Board recommended against it in early April. But the proposed legislation would have also made it difficult for the church members to construct a county-approved church and school as well.

"I think the church deserves to have water and sewage [service] to develop their church and school," said board member Joan Lancos. She said she opposes "anything beyond that."

But the housing project won't go before the county Board of Appeals until Thursday, and Planning Board members felt it premature to pull the church from the county water and sewer district because the Appeals Board might approve the complex.

"I think it really needs to go to the Board of Appeals," said Planning Board member Gary Kaufman. "Let them search themselves just like we do."

Some Planning Board members seemed annoyed that neither councilman showed up yesterday to defend the bill.

Kittleman said he didn't know about the hearing. Guzzone said he was told he didn't have to attend.

The councilmen said that when the church requested access to the public water and sewer system several years ago, the people who helped make that happen were under the impression church members would never build housing on the property, which is surrounded by fields.

Both said they have been talking with church officials to come up with a compromise.

"From my perspective, what the citizens are willing to accept is what is most important," Guzzone said.

Pub Date: 6/18/99

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