The Army is moving forward with converting an old building on the Aberdeen Proving Ground into a water source to provide 3 million gallons of water daily, Aberdeen city manager Doug Miller said.

The post has one, 500,000-gallon water tank, which has never been an issue because the post has long had available water stored at the city's Chapel Hill plant, Miller told the city council during a work session Monday.

The Chapel Hill plant can hold more than 1 million gallons of water as a reserve, but "indications are that Chapel Hill will be mothballed in the next decade," Miller said. "We have to have another water tower out on APG."

That project is happening already and will hopefully be done in two months, he said.

Meanwhile, the Army is taking a historic building, labeled Building 250, which would become a new water source.

After Chapel Hill is decommissioned, the Army will ask Aberdeen to operate the refurbished Building 250, Miller explained after the meeting.

He said the city is designing the building.

"It's part of a contract modification with them [APG]," he said.

Home rule

Aberdeen is responding to Harford County's recent passage of the stormwater tax, also called the "rain tax," by trying to clarify that the county has limited control over the city.

Miller proposed a charter amendment resolution that clarifies the concept of "home rule" for Aberdeen.

"The concern is that back in 1954, the Maryland Municipal League, after about six years of lobbying, got what we now call affectionately home rule, and that's a concept that we hold very dear in municipal government," Miller told the council.

"If a municipality has certain regulations, the county cannot enforce like regulations within the municipality. For example, [city planning and community development director] Ms. [Phyllis] Grover has domain over sign regulations. The county cannot come in and impose their sign regulations within [town] limits," Miller said.

While the Harford County Council discussed the so-called "rain tax," they started talking about collecting fees from the municipalities, Miller said.

"We instantly said, 'Well, that's a violation of home rule,'" he said. "The city attorney said, 'You're right, it is, but you don't have that spelled out in your charter.' We are just basically invoking home rule, which we have, but [the resolution] just strengthens our position."

He said a resolution is typically introduced and approved in the same evening, after which residents have 40 days to petition to bring it to referendum. If there are no petitions, it becomes an amendment after 50 days.

The resolution would be introduced next week.

Project presentation

On Wednesday, the city, along with the Maryland Department of Transportation, Maryland Transit Administration and the Maryland Department of Planning, will host a presentation from 5 to 7 p.m. on the planned form-based code for transit-oriented development.

That concept focuses on the area immediately around the Amtrak train station and includes much of Aberdeen's downtown.