Water lines extension to Maple Crest discussed

Commissioner hears homeowners' views on Westminster connection

January 11, 2000|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

About 35 homeowners in Maple Crest, a 30-year-old subdivision south of Westminster, met with County Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier last night to discuss extending city water lines to their neighborhood.

The area has no public water, and residents rely on private wells. Some wells run low part of the year and others go dry during periods of drought. More than a few have dried up, forcing residents to bear the costly burden of trucking in water.

"I've got a water-conditioning system that requires a lot of maintenance and costs me quite a bit of money. It would be a relief to get rid of that," E. Pete Maugans Jr. told Frazier during the meeting, held at the County Office Building in Westminster.

Maugans is one of 13 property owners who support extending the water lines. The project would cost $300,000. The county would fund the work, but residents would have to reimburse the county over 20 years -- unless grant money can be acquired for the project, an option many residents said they are eager to explore.

State agencies

Carroll officials told residents that the county could apply to the state Department of Housing and Community Development and the Maryland Department of the Environment for funds. To be considered, 50 percent of the community's residents would have to demonstrate that they earn low to moderate incomes, ranging from $33,450 per year for one person to $63,100 for a family of eight.

If funding is not available and the county commissioners choose to move forward with the project, each of the 50 or so property owners in Maple Crest would be required to pay $5,000 for the work. Those who choose to hook up to the public water system would have to pay an additional $3,700 in connection and service fees.

"I'm going to give residents another two to four weeks to make up their minds, then I'll be forwarding a recommendation to the commissioners," said Gary L. Horst, director of Carroll's Department of Enterprise and Recreation Services.

Cost will be weighed

Many homeowners will weigh the project's cost against the gravity of their water problems, he said.

Letters sent to his office from the community indicate that 13 property owners would be willing to pay for the water line. Sixteen said they would not, and 11 are undecided. The remaining property owners have not responded to written inquiries.

County officials said they would mail another batch of letters this week, along with income surveys.

Maple Crest is one of three dozen Carroll communities identified by the county Health Department as having water or sewer problems, and, in some cases, both. Most are rural villages, a designation reserved for older, unincorporated, residential communities in agricultural zones. The communities include Detour, Union Mills, Mayberry, Lineboro and Uniontown.

$40,000 set aside

During the past two years, the county has set aside $40,000 to study the communities and determine the extent of the water and sewer problems and whether residents want help.

"The county will not move forward with the project unless a large number of property owners -- more than a simple majority -- express a desire to do so," Horst said.

"If they don't express themselves as yesses, they're going to be counted as no's."

Not all homeowners have water problems or want assistance.

"If we could get the cost down to $1, I still wouldn't want it," Ann Edwards said of the water line. "My house was built in 1963, and I don't have any problems. I can't imagine my well running out of water all of a sudden."

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