Two commissioners want change in watershed management pact

Possibility of zoning limits concerns Dell, Frazier

May 04, 2001|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

The battle over philosophies continues as Carroll's three commissioners try to resolve differences that have kept them from endorsing the longstanding Reservoir Watershed Management Agreement - a pact to safeguard land surrounding metropolitan Baltimore's reservoirs.

If the Baltimore Metropolitan Council will accept the deletion of one resolution from its document, Commissioners Donald I. Dell and Robin Bartlett Frazier said yesterday they will sign the document.

They have asked the other signers, including Gov. Parris N. Glendening, Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley and leaders of the metropolitan counties, to eliminate "In Baltimore and Carroll counties, conservation and agricultural zoning of the reservoir watersheds should be maintained and not reduced" from the agreement.

"The document says that nothing shall inhibit us from governing," Dell said yesterday. "If they delete that section, I am willing to sign."

Carroll officials have not endorsed the agreement since 1996 because they contend it impairs their authority to zone. Dell and Frazier are pushing to rezone to industrial several parcels within Liberty Reservoir watershed - which covers more than one-third of Carroll, including five of its community growth areas.

"The change gives us the ability to plan," Frazier said. "We wholeheartedly agree with the intent of the agreement, and we already participate in watershed protection."

Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge, who has said she would sign the agreement as it now reads, said she doubts that other executives will agree to the revision. She feels that the changes would undermine safeguards to the water supply for millions of people.

"If we are changing, I am not willing to sign, and I don't think you will see other executives signing," Gouge said. "They have questions about your motives."

Gouge added, "If we are doing everything we should, then let's sign the agreement we have lived by since 1984. This is not about other counties telling us how to zone our property. What is here has to protect what is downstream. Everyone has ... to protect the water supply hundreds of years into the future."

The commissioners tabled discussion yesterday until they have an opportunity to review the metropolitan council's most recent recommendations.

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