Building moratorium suggested

Havre de Grace councilman says city water and sewer systems are near capacity


Havre de Grace has experienced a rebirth of sorts in recent years, with new homes springing up near its revived waterfront promenade-Main Street corridor and with developers erecting thousands of offices and homes around Bulle Rock, a six-year-old golf course that has gained a reputation as one of the best public facilities in the nation.

But one city councilman thinks the city may need to slow things down, at least for six months.

Concerned that the city's water and sewer systems are approaching capacity, City Councilman Wayne Dougherty has been floating the idea of a six-month moratorium on new development.

He clarified his thoughts this week at a City Council meeting, saying he would await the results of a citywide audit on services due early next month. Dougherty was attending a Maryland Municipal League conference on the Eastern Shore at week's end.

While officials applaud the audit, the idea of a six-month hold on development has received a lukewarm reception, particularly from David R. Craig, who served as Havre de Grace's mayor until this summer, when he was picked to succeed James M. Harkins as county executive.

"I believe he's operating under bad information," Craig said. "There's no doubt they have sufficient capacity.

Craig said he left the city in a good position to see through its various development projects. "The timeline was working perfectly," he said. "If someone's dropped the ball since then, it would be unfortunate."

City Council members met Oct. 6 with department heads, who were given 30 days to compile the audit on the status of city services. The results are due the first week in November.

"My concern is what's best for Havre de Grace," said Mayor John Correri. "Our plate is pretty full ... and I want to protect the city to make sure we're staying within our capacities."

The city's public works director, Larry Parks, said Dougherty's concerns were unwarranted.

"We're monitoring to make sure we don't get to that point, of course," he said. The city's wastewater treatment plant underwent a $6.7 million upgrade in 2002, which the department's Web site says would "take us into the next 25 years of capacity." But Parks said a "sizable reworking" of the plant is under design and expected to be completed in 2009.

In addition to Bulle Rock, several other home development projects are planned, and Havre de Grace is expected to be affected by new jobs coming to Aberdeen Proving Ground.

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