Harford County Council members questioned the county treasurer about a proposed resolution to let Exelon contribute $50,000 to the new Emergency Operations Center complex.
"This money will be used in the room that is for the emergencies, not the 911 center part," treasurer Kathryn Hewitt said.
"One reason they were going to help us is because a lot of our emergency preparedness in this county is centered around Peach Bottom and because we do a lot of testing with them and a lot of emergency drills with Exelon in regard to Peach Bottom," she said.
Councilwoman Mary Ann Lisanti questioned the fact that administration director Mary Chance met with Exelon and suggested they contribute to the center.
Hewitt said she was not privy to the conversation but noted $50,000 is a very small amount for the project, which has $25 million dedicated to it in bond money alone.
"Is it practice to go out and ask a corporation? Probably not a common practice to do that but because we partner with Exelon so much on the emergency preparedness and they come and participate when the emergency center when it is activated, they are one of the partners there," she said.
Hewitt also pointed out: "I think it's because they wanted to make a gift to the county to show their appreciation for the work the county does… with Peach Bottom."
Lisanti said she found it odd, given the timing with Exelon undergoing a federal relicensing process.
"I find this a little peculiar," she told Hewitt. "For us to actively request this as part of a major capital project under the guise of public safety, give me some confidence with this."
Councilman Jim McMahan said the nuclear regulatory agency requires several counties to have an extensive training program in place for anything related to Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station.
"We have never had a room dedicated to these tabletop exercises," he said about the need for the complex.
Councilman Chad Shrodes said it was nevertheless important to remember what Exelon has done for the county, noting it put in a new trail and park, as well as helped out Darlington Volunteer Fire Company.
"I just don't want this to dilute what a great partner Exelon has been," Shrodes said.
The council did not vote on whether to accept the Exelon contribution.
Growth Act revision
The council approved a revision to the state's Sustainable Growth Act to add the potential of two building lots through the subdivision process.
The emergency bill defines a major subdivision as anything larger than seven lots, more than the minimum the state proposed in the act.
Shrodes, a leading opponent of the state proposal, said it is unfortunate county officials do not have more impact with the legislation.
"It is eminent domain without adequate compensation to property owners," he said. "I wish there was more that we could do."
Lisanti said she understands his position but thinks more analysis is needed into the quantity of development rights and family conveyances and how they would be affected by the legislation.