The Baltimore County Council continued to struggle yesterday with a proposal that would define the authority of council members to extend water and sewer lines to rural areas - one week after an earlier version of the plan was deferred.
By the end of a council work session, a majority of the seven members appeared ready to table the plan, which has met with stiff resistance from community and preservation groups.
A first version of the proposal would have given the council authority to extend public water and sewerage beyond the county's Urban Rural Demarcation Line - a boundary designed to control dense development within the county - "in its discretion, for any reason deemed appropriate."
A more limited resolution, introduced in the aftermath of community opposition, would limit the council's authority to areas where there is a potential public health problem or where the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Commission has given its approval.
Despite the changes, nearly a dozen residents turned out at the work session pleading again with council members not to do anything that would weaken the demarcation line, known as the URDL. Some said they are concerned that any resolution would lead to unwanted development in areas better suited for preservation and farming.
"We're very concerned about maintaining the integrity of the URDL," said Nedda Evans of Sparks. "We want to make sure it's maintained in its current form."
County officials said the genesis of the resolution was a series of recent decisions by state officials to deny requests to extend public water and sewerage to land on the rural side of the URDL.
Although state officials have approved such requests in the past, recent decisions based the denials on the county's Master Plan, which lays out which areas of the county are urban and which are rural and denotes the urban areas as land where water and sewer service is provided or planned for, county officials said.
Councilman Kevin Kamenetz, a Pikesville-Ruxton Democrat, said he would rather appeal those state decisions than change the way the county does business. Administrative appeals are in the works, officials said yesterday.
"This resolution is counterproductive," Kamenetz said. "It prevents the council from making decisions where appropriate."
A vote on the resolution is scheduled Monday.