Farm annexation awaits water testing

Manchester, state say they want assurance of amount and quality

June 24, 1999|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

Manchester's annexation of the Black Farm property, which is contingent on state approval of studies for sufficient water quantity and quality, is moving forward, according to state and town officials.

Developer Martin K.P. Hill plans to build more than 200 homes on the Black Farm property, which consists of six parcels comprising 157 undeveloped acres north of Manchester, mostly east of Route 30 and south of Lineboro Road near Fridinger Mill Road. With annexation, the town would be responsible for water, sewer and street maintenance.

The town charter stipulates that the developer guarantee 500 gallons of water a day for each new housing unit.

About two weeks ago, Manchester officials applied to the water management administration of the Maryland Department of the Environment to increase its appropriation of water to accommodate the development.

The application indicates that the average amount of ground water used each day in Manchester -- a town of about 3,200 residents -- ranges from 166,000 gallons in minimum-use months to 277,000 gallons in maximum-use months.

The application seeks to increase non-peak and peak daily quantities to 324,000 gallons and 486,000 gallons per day, respectively.

The town's application states that the additional water would come from the "Marburg Formation," near Route 30 and Lineboro Road.

Matthew Pajerowski, chief of the water rights division of state Department of the Environment, said the application process has been completed by the town with respect to the quantity of water.

"We are receiving public comments until [tomorrow] and then we are free to make a decision," Pajerowski said. "I am not aware of any adverse public comments so far.

"We would be inclined to grant [the state permit], if there is no other public comment," he said.

The amount of the requested increase in water appropriation -- about 95 percent for non-peak periods and about 75 percent for peak periods -- does not seem unusual, Pajerowski said.

Water appropriation is based on expected growth, and a decision on whether to annex or not must consider quantity and quality of the water for a new service area, he said.

The quality of the water will be determined by MDE engineers from samples submitted by the developer.

Philip Arbaugh, Manchester's town manager, said the MDE's granting a permit on the town's water appropriation request is a step in the annexation process.

"We still need the [MDE] report on the quality of the water, showing that test results are acceptable," Arbaugh said.

If the quality of the water is judged substandard, annexation of Black Farm would be delayed until the developer, if he chooses to go forward with the project, could drill new wells that meet MDE standards, he said.

The town held a public hearing on annexing the Black Farm property in February. After Hill made a brief presentation, several residents raised questions on the number of housing units, water concerns and traffic congestion.

Attempts to reach Jim Piet, a spokesman for the developer, were unsuccessful yesterday.

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