There's no good reason for Bill 11-48 (Gas Station Reforms) that is before the Harford County Council. Procedures already exist (Harford Code 2671-21) that can allow expansion of gas stations near private drinking water wells. Although no gas stations have applied, Bill 11-48 throws away this procedure and lets stations expand without consideration of possible harm to neighboring properties and wells.
Currently, gas stations in areas served by private wells must ask the County Council's permission to expand and must participate in a public hearing. The council can allow expansion, not allow it, or allow it with conditions. The decision is made for one specific gas station and considers whether expansion will adversely affect adjacent wells or properties.
So is the main purpose of Bill 11-48 to silence nearby property owners? Do station owners not trust the council to decide each case on its merits? Are they unwilling to accept conditions the council may impose?
I believe this bill will also open rural Harford County to more gas stations. Either new equipment is all that's needed to protect neighboring wells and properties, or it's not. If site conditions or nearby wells don't matter, then a simple court challenge opens the rural areas to new gas stations.
If you agree that each gas station's expansion request should be considered individually and include public input, come tell the council this Tuesday, Nov. 8, at 6:30 p.m. at 102 S. Hickory in Bel Air. Alternative: Call the County Council (410-638-3343) or email County Council President Billy Boniface's office (email@example.com)
Morita Bruce, Fallston