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Westminster City Council and County Commissioners discuss state of the city

The Westminster City Council and Carroll County Commissioners met Monday for the first of what Council President Robert Wack said he hopes will be many meetings between the two groups to discuss the current state and future plans for the city.

During the joint meeting, the council discussed Westminster’s water issues, an update on the broadband internet initiative, plans for long-term facilities and general ideas regarding economic development.

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About half of the meeting was spent discussing the various challenges facing Westminster in regards to its water sources. In June, the city suspended applications for development that required new net water allocation after the Maryland Department of the Environment determined that water from the Gesell property well in the Double Pipe Creek watershed, was not yet safe for use. The source was expected to come online this year, a completion date that had to be postponed while the well is brought up to MDE standards using a filtration system that manages E. coli levels and turbidity.

The process is expected to be completed in March 2018.

Wack said, though, that the experience with the Gesell property has taught the council to be more cautious in its estimations of water access when discussing the topic with potential developers. He said it’s important that they don’t promise water resources that it turns out they can’t deliver on.

Other water issues discussed included the reuse of wastewater and creating plans for upcoming decades of water resource allocation.

After a discussion of water allocation, the rest of the meeting consisted largely of updates surrounding various Westminster projects. The broadband initiative, which started with a partnership between the City of Westminster and Ting in 2015, will be entering its third phase of expansions within a couple of months. Wack said the program has been very successful so far, with goals of a 20 percent take rate met ahead of schedule during each phase of the project.

He said recent outages that Ting customers have experienced will hopefully be a thing of the past as a secondary connection has been created, ensuring a backup of service.

Next year, he said, the opportunity to provide service for the city’s broadband will be opened up to other businesses, allowing residents a choice between Ting and other providers.

The final two topics of the evening were briefly discussed, as council members talked about previous and hopeful future plans to transform Md. 27 into a gateway into Westminster for those traveling on Md. 140, a possible restructuring of public transit routes, and keeping an eye on the eventual state and development of the TownMall of Westminster.

The meeting ended with an agreement among all parties, that these joint meetings are vital for the success of Westminster, and tentative plans to return in a two-to-three hour work session to discuss water in more depth in the near future.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified one of the goals met by the partnership between the City of Westminster and Ting. Council President Robert Wack said the program’s has been very successful so far, with goals of a 20 percent take rate met ahead of schedule during each phase of the project.

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