Harford County's request to add the proposed 285-apartment Mt. Soma development to the public water system drew some debate at Tuesday's Harford County Council meeting.

The development is part of the proposed water and sewer plan update for spring 2014; the council held a public hearing Tuesday on the resolution to approve the update but did not take any action.

The resolution would place the Soma property, near Route 1 and the Belair Bypass, in the W-3 category, thus speeding up its inclusion in the public water system service area.

Fallston resident and land-use advocate Morita Bruce asked for the property to be excluded from the water and sewer plan until developers can show the site can handle stormwater run-off.


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She said she is not against apartments, which are allowed on the site, but "I just think they're asking for far too many that they won't be able to handle."

"Where it slopes down from Belair Bypass, there is a very, very steep slope where the dirt has been pulled out," Bruce said.

"It's got gray and red, which is typical of clay, and clay does not [pass a septic percolation test]," she continued.

Bruce said she wants to see a detailed analysis of the impervious surfaces the site will have.

"I just don't think they can put as many on here as the nearly 300 [apartments] that they're planning," she said.

Beth Scheir, of the Greater Fallston Association, agreed with Bruce and asked for further investigation into water allocation at the site.

She asked that the property not to be developed until owners can show how the integrity of the Winters Run watershed area will be protected and maintained.

Ellen Pons, of Old Joppa Road, also wondered why a developer is asking to be in the county's water system when it is less than a mile from the Town of Bel Air, which uses Maryland American Water.

She asked what the "impetus" is for leaving the Bel Air water and sewer service area.

Darryl Ivins, county civil engineer, in response to a question from Councilman Joe Woods, confirmed that Soma's owners have been paying into the Fallston area's sanitary subdivision since at least 1999, after Woods raised the question.

Woods, who represents the Fallston area, said Soma's owners have a preliminary plan filed with the county, which "takes away one of my major issues."

Ivins also said the Soma property is near a 24-inch water main that runs along the Belair Bypass and was intended to serve the Fallston-Benson area.

He said the sewer system is capable of handling the projected amount of sewage from 285 apartments.

"It does have an impact but the impact is considered," Ivins said.

Woods introduced an amendment that would require any future apartment plans to be included in the water and sewer master plan before being allowed to move forward.

The amendment would not affect the Soma property, as Council President Billy Boniface said Wednesday the site can legally still move forward even if the project were removed from the master plan update, because its developer is only requesting one water connection.