Commissioners ease restrictions on water hookups in Freedom area

Move comes as officials work to construct new wells

Carroll County

October 13, 2004|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Carroll County commissioners relaxed a ban on water hookups in South Carroll yesterday, just a month after enacting limits on new users for the public system.

They voted unanimously to allow existing lots in established subdivisions to hook into the Freedom water system, which supplies more than 7,000 homes and businesses in Eldersburg and Sykesville.

The policy will allow lots recorded before Sept. 7 to move forward in the development process. It applies only to residential lots, and excludes commercial or industrial property.

The county will allocate water as lot owners apply for a building permit.

"These lots have to be in the development process," said Franklin Schaeffer, Carroll's deputy director of public works.

A review of property assessments in the Freedom area shows about 90 lots that can be built on but have no permit. About 10 of those lots are developed each year.

"We have gone through and counted everything that has to do with old recorded lots," said Douglas Myers, county director of public works. "Basically we want to let these old lots go forward with a building permit just within the service area."

Steven C. Horn, county director of planning, cautioned that the lot survey is an estimate.

"We are not sure how quickly folks might come forward to develop these lots," Horn said.

Commissioner Dean L. Minnich said he was concerned about setting a precedent that would allow new construction in the area, which suffers from seasonal water shortages. County Attorney Kimberly A. Millender said the policy is consistent with Carroll's growth limitations.

"We are clearly delineating where we draw the line," Millender said.

The county allocates each new home that comes onto the system 300 gallons of water a day. Carroll supplies the Freedom area with water drawn from Liberty Reservoir and supplemented by the Fairhaven well. The county is developing additional water resources for South Carroll, its most populous and rapidly growing area, including two new well sites, known as Freedom and Moxley, along Route 32 near Sykesville.

The three wells could add 500,000 gallons to the daily supply and are the county's best and most immediate opportunity for additional water, Schaeffer said.

But, he said, well construction will be delayed while the county secures easements. The state also is requiring additional permits and reviews that have forced the county to revise its well construction schedule.

Schaeffer originally expected the Freedom well, set for construction at the eastern end of Freedom Park, to be operational by the end of the year. It will probably come on line in the spring, about the same time as the Moxley well on Raincliffe Road. Construction costs are estimated at $2 million for both wells.

Ten new allocations a year will have little effect on the public system, Myers said.

"You are talking about maybe 30 new homes in the next three years," Myers said. "We can live with that."

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