Plan could end Glenelg High quandary

Developer offers land for shared septic system

October 15, 2001|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

A last-minute proposal may stave off county condemnation of a 91-year-old western Howard County woman's land for an addition to Glenelg High School.

After two years of frustration, a developer might have found a way to build new homes on the land and enable the high school to go forward with a long-awaited 400-seat addition - while saving time and money for everyone.

J. Thomas Scrivener has a contract to buy Mae Musgrove's 70-acre parcel for construction of up to 35 homes, according to Musgrove and William Grau, Scrivener's project manager. To make it work, Scrivener is offering to let the county build a community septic system on the parcel. The system would resolve the school's wastewater problems while also serving the new homes.

The deal would save the county time and legal expenses, not to mention the cost of buying the land through condemnation. And it would save the developer the time and expense of obtaining approval for the septic system and building it. County law says the government will maintain such shared septic systems.

"If this will work for us, it will be wonderful for everybody," school board Chairwoman Jane B. Schuchardt said.

"This is a unique proposal. To me it makes a lot of sense," Deputy School Superintendent Sydney L. Cousin said.

With the proposal on the table, the county school board has postponed for two weeks a decision on whether to go forward with condemnation of the Musgrove farm behind the school.

Cousin said he will need that much time to find out whether the shared septic system would comply with state and county regulations.

A note of caution was sounded by Glenelg PTA President Terry Chaconas, who noted that the county has 18 months to begin construction and still have the new seats ready by 2004. She said the county should carefully examine future land needs for Glenelg, too.

"Will that property ever be needed? We just have to make sure we're looking out 15 years."

Grau said the proposal arose last week because the contract to buy the land was signed only the previous weekend.

"It's out of my hands now," Musgrove said Friday, calling the Scrivener deal "wonderful," because it would allow her family to develop the land and keep her in her farmhouse for as long as she wishes.

Glenelg's $8.5 million renovation and addition project was originally to have been completed this school year but was delayed because of problems with the 1958 school's failing septic system. The board hopes to get the addition built in time for the 2004-2005 school year - a waning hope if there are more delays.

The dispute has been a difficult, protracted one for the board. Musgrove is a retired county teacher whose family gave up land three previous times to build and then expand the school. She felt they had given enough and refused to sell more land to the county.

But the board is facing predictions of high school overcrowding by decade's end and felt compelled to find some way of adding seats at Glenelg, which has a smaller capacity than most other county high schools.

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