Commissioners agree to water plant hearing

Gouge ties backing for flier to holding a public meeting

Carroll County

March 28, 2001|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Carroll County Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge finally won her battle yesterday to have a public hearing on a $14 million water treatment plant on Piney Run Reservoir in South Carroll.

Gouge tied her support for mailing an informational brochure about the plans for Piney Run to 7,000 South Carroll residents to the scheduling of a public hearing on the project.

The brochure will be mailed in the next few weeks with a survey of South Carroll homeowners to determine the number with leaking copper pipes.

Gouge hopes to use the session to make public her rationale for opposing the plant.

"I think this has been hashed over far too much already, but it is OK to get more people into it," said Commissioner Donald I. Dell. He and Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier outvoted Gouge in July and approved construction of the plant, which they contend is needed to supplement the water supply in South Carroll.

Dell and Frazier have repeatedly refused Gouge's requests to hold a public meeting on tapping the reservoir -- its lake is the main attraction of a popular recreation area called Piney Run Park -- until yesterday.

"It can be educational to put the facts out there," Frazier said. She said she could not include arguments for and against the decision in a brochure format.

"It will go as is without additional facts," said Gouge. "There is not enough information in there. You both decided what would go in there."

"We had to narrow information down into the format," Frazier said. "We tried for the main points. There was a lot more I would like to have said. This is not as in-depth as we would like, but our technical people worked on it."

The brochure discusses the history of Piney Run Reservoir and tries to answer the most frequently asked questions, Frazier said.

The project has had little support from residents of South Carroll, many of whom feel the plant will have an adverse impact on the popular recreation spot.

Gouge favors expanding the county's water treatment plant at Liberty Reservoir and building a series of wells.

"The things I have brought up are important for citizens to be aware of," Gouge said. "I want staff to put together an informational meeting that will include the wells and other things."

Gouge initially wanted to include her points in the mailing, but withdrew her requests when her colleagues agreed to the hearing. Adding Gouge's arguments against the plant "would be in conflict with what we are trying to do in the brochure," Dell said.

He agreed to a public meeting, but insisted that all three board members and their staffs attend.

"All sorts of questions will be raised at the hearing," Dell said.

Yesterday marked the third time in three workdays that the commissioners have dealt with the brochure.

In a private meeting Friday, which excluded the press and public, the commissioners agreed to mail the brochure. The board reached a consensus and no vote was taken, Dell said. After several inquiries by The Sun, the commissioners discussed the brochure in public session Monday, but could not agree on what would be included in the mailer.

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