At a Baltimore County Board of Education meeting last month, the board tabled a contract that would grant BGE a small land easement at Towson High School back to the administration in hopes of convincing the utility company to provide compensation.
On Tuesday night, the board relented and voted to grant the easement — though the school system will not be paid for use of the land.
School Board President Lawrence Schmidt said Wednesday that the bill was ultimately passed after a second discussion because of the benefit to Towson High and the lack of precedent for receiving financial consideration.
"(BCPS staff) did a survey of four other counties including Montgomery, Howard, Prince George's and Harford to see if BGE pays for easements (on school property) there and the answer is they do not," Schmidt said.
Schmidt said Pete Dixit, executive director of the BCPS Department of Physical Facilities, also told the board that the property would benefit from infrastructure improvements.
According to data provided to Schmidt, Towson High has lost power 16 times in the last five years—nearly three times more frequently than other county schools.
"The main part of the easement would be to upgrade and add equipment, and i think bury lines as well," Schmidt said. "It's hoped that this would make it so there wouldn't be as many outages as there has been."
One easement will use .177 acres on the southwest portion of the campus to bury wires serving adjacent homes from an existing transformer. The other will use just two thousandths of an acre — 80 square feet — for guide wires from an existing pole.
School spokesman Charles Herndon said seven members in attendance voted for the bill, while one voted against and one abstained.
Councilman David Marks, who represents Towson, said in an email that he spoke to School Board President Lawrence Schmidt about the easement "because we need to continually upgrade the electrical infrastructure throughout greater Towson."
Without compensation for the school system, the contract seemed unlikely to pass when the board first discussed it. At the board's Dec. 4 meeting, Schmidt said the a contract without financial considerations might be acceptable if Towson High was the only beneficiary, as opposed to the entire community benefiting from the free land use.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun