Health regulations force reduction of Windy Hills project

Bigger lots required, meaning fewer houses

October 29, 2002|By Athima Chansanchai | Athima Chansanchai,SUN STAFF

Developers of a proposed subdivision in Westminster have to reduce the number of residences because their plans do not meet state health department requirements designed to prevent ground-water contamination, a Carroll County government committee determined yesterday.

About 20 people from neighborhoods near the proposed Windy Hills Farm development said yesterday that they are worried that new wells on the property would tap into their water supply and that increased runoff from the buildings and traffic on the property would contaminate the city's water supply.

Dawn Penney told members of the county Subdivision Advisory Committee she was concerned that runoff could contaminate a stream that runs through her property and that the wells might affect her water supply.

"It's not a guarantee, but it seems likely," said Penney, who lives on Lemmon Road, which borders the property. "We've been very lucky. We haven't had to redrill our wells, but our neighbors have."

Mary Gibson, who also lives close to Windy Hills Farms, is pleased that the project has been stalled.

"I'm happy that this is not flying through," she said. Her main concern is about additional residents tapping into a strained water supply. She said she and her family are taking four-minute showers to save water.

The preliminary plan submitted by John Pfaff Builders for the Windy Hills Farms property, bordered by Sullivan, Lemmon and Lucabaugh Mill roads, calls for 187 units on 322 acres.

That plan was drafted on the assumption that lots could be as small as 1 acre. But the building lots that are within 5,000 feet of a reservoir intake - the west branch of the Patapsco River, which feeds the city's water supply - are required by state health department regulations to be at least 2 acres. As a result, any new plan would include significantly fewer homes.

"That means less lots, less cars and less runoff from roofs," said Thomas B. Beyard, Westminster's director of planning and public works, who said he was pleased by the committee's ruling. "Our major concern is its impact on the water system."

He said health regulations also would require the new plans to include buffers between lots and sensitive areas such as wetlands.

The original plan "is moot," Stephen A. Ford, county development review supervisor, said during the meeting. "The engineer is going to have to back up and take this plan and work with the health department, the county and the city and meet these regulations."

Conceptual plans for the property were submitted in February. A previous plan for the property dates to 1978, when a 114-unit development was approved. It was never built.

"I think it's moving in exactly the right direction," Beyard said. "They'll give this plan a real hard look, which is what I think is needed, and we'll go from there."

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