Contract for water tower site approved

Hampstead to supply North Carroll center

March 15, 2000|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,SUN STAFF

Hampstead Town Council approved last night a contract with H. M. Mall Associates/The Cordish Co. that would give the town a site for a new water tower.

In exchange, the town will provide public water to North Carroll Shopping Center, including the Wal-Mart and Burger King set to open this summer, even though the center is not being annexed by the town.

The Town Council voted to approve the agreement in principle in December, but negotiations on the final details were not wrapped up until this week, Town Manager Ken Decker said.

A second vote was not needed, but Councilman Wayne Thomas continued to register his opposition.

"On the surface, it sounds like a win-win thing here," Thomas said, but added that he is worried the agreement could bring Hampstead problems that outweigh the benefit of a convenient place to put a tower that residents don't want to see in their neighborhoods.

Thomas mentioned several concerns. He said that the town sets a risky precedent by selling water to a user not in the town and that the shopping center has the potential to be a very large user. Thomas said the center's owners should have been required to seek annexation if they wanted public water.

Thomas said he is also concerned that two wells H. M. Mall is offering will be covered by parking lots.

The town's code, Thomas noted, calls for a buffer of at least 100 feet around a wellhead. This buffer is needed for the well to recharge through rainwater seeping into the ground.

"I'm concerned that we're not going to be able to get the use out of the water," Thomas said, adding that too many questions remain unanswered.

But proponents, including Councilman Lawrence Hentz, said the town has much to gain from the agreement. H. M. Mall Associates would not have had the time to go through the sometimes lengthy and contentious annexation process, he said.

"In my opinion, you're putting too much weight on these wells," Hentz said. "They're icing on the cake. They are not the cake."

Hentz said the value of the agreement is in the land and services worth $250,000 that H. M. Mall is providing.

"We got a site the citizens like, that the people who live around it like," Hentz said.

In exchange for the water supply, H. M. Mall Associates will provide a site of less than an acre for the tower northeast of the shopping center; two wells on the site; construction of a line to connect the two wells to the town's water main; a pump house.

The shopping center will pay for water it uses at twice the town rate, a progressive rate that increases proportionate to use. That is comparable to what other users outside the town pay. A few residences that are unable to use their wells have long-standing agreements to use town water. The town code allows for providing water to such users.

The town had to change its code to allow sale of water for other reasons than inability to use a well.

Decker said one of the last issues to be resolved had been the ownership of the site. H. M. Mall Associates had offered an easement. The town held out for full ownership to get complete control of the $650,000 tower it will erect there, Decker said.

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