Piney Run opponents petition governor

Carroll facility defies Smart Growth, letter says

July 30, 2002|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Hoping to thwart a proposed $16 million water treatment plant at Piney Run Lake, a South Carroll citizens group is making another appeal - this one to the Smart Growth sensibilities of Maryland's governor.

In a letter to Gov. Parris N. Glendening dated July 24, the Freedom Area Citizens Council said the state should not issue a construction permit for the plant because it runs counter to Smart Growth tenets and would spur more development in South Carroll.

"Frankly, the governor has nothing to lose with Carroll and the law would be completely on his side. We are taking one last shot," said Ross Dangel, chairman of the unofficial group that serves as a liaison between the county and residents throughout Eldersburg and Sykesville.

Glendening has intervened in several Carroll land-use decisions - particularly those that would spur development of farmland - issues that he said "struck at the heart" of his Smart Growth initiative to control growth. Dangel opened the letter with praise for Glendening's stance.

"Maryland's legacy as a protector of the environment and champion of Smart Growth may indeed be challenged if Carroll County is allowed to continue its pursuit of the water treatment plant," he wrote.

The Maryland Department of the Environment, which oversees the permitting process, has had the plant designs since January but has not moved the project forward. Two of Carroll's three commissioners say the plant is essential to augment the water supply in South Carroll.

Opponents say the plant would adversely affect water quality at the 300-acre lake that is Carroll's premier recreation spot and bring more development to South Carroll.

Commissioners Robin Bartlett Frazier and Donald I. Dell voted more than two years ago to move ahead with the plant that they said was critical to easing persistent water shortages.

South Carroll relies on water drawn from Liberty Reservoir, which is owned by Baltimore. The county can draw up to 3 million gallons a day from the 44-billion-gallon reservoir and treat it at its Freedom plant. Dell and Frazier claim a second plant at the county-owned Piney Run is essential. She and Dell repeatedly have outvoted attempts by Commission Julia Walsh Gouge to bring wells on line as a more immediate solution to the water woes.

A year ago, the MDE said it would not allow construction to proceed without substantial revisions to Carroll's water and sewer master plan. County planners have amended the plan and expect to schedule a public hearing late next month.

The plan has made the rounds of officials in adjoining counties, Baltimore and state agencies. Comments on the draft have, for the most part, been unfavorable.

Bobbi Moser, a Carroll County planner, said she has never seen such comments from other jurisdictions and does not know how they will affect the MDE's decision.

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