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Havre de Grace council president issues apology for comments on Harford County Council, water line to Aberdeen

Havre de Grace City Council President David Glenn, who took the Harford County government and County Council to task earlier this month over the county denying the city use of a county-owned line to send drinking water to Aberdeen, recently issued an apology for his remarks.

“I felt like I had to be the better person and own up to an oversight,” Glenn said in an interview Wednesday regarding the email he sent to all seven County Council members Jan. 10. The email also was sent to Aberdeen and Havre de Grace leaders and The Aegis.

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Glenn issued a mea culpa in the email for previously accusing Harford County’s legislative body of not acting on a resolution sent by the City of Havre de Grace as part of a push to get the county government to allow the city to use a county maintained line to send drinking water produced in Havre de Grace’s treatment plant to Aberdeen.

The City Council president sent the apology upon learning the County Council never received the city’s resolution.

“I in essence accused you of not acting on documentation that you never received," Glenn wrote. “Needless to say, I owe you this heartfelt apology.”

Glenn, along with fellow council members and Mayor William T. Martin, expressed their frustrations during a Jan. 6 City Council meeting about the county’s denial as city leaders discussed plans to build their own water line to Aberdeen. The council approved a water purchase agreement with Aberdeen the same night.

Havre de Grace officials had been working to secure permission from the county government to use an existing water line along Route 40 to get water to Aberdeen while the two cities funded and built a new line — Havre de Grace officials estimate the line would cost about $2.5 million, and that cost would be split with Aberdeen.

Council members and the mayor said at the time they had been working on the resolution with Council Council members such as President Patrick Vincenti and District F Councilman Curtis Beulah, but they accused the county body of not acting on the document.

“To date, nobody on that County Council has an appetite to move that resolution forward, which I think is a true disservice to the City of Havre de Grace and the City of Aberdeen,” Glenn said Jan. 6.

He later heard from Vincenti that council staff had searched for the resolution but could not find a copy of it. Glenn said in his email that the resolution had not been sent despite his belief that it had following meetings and discussions among Aberdeen and Havre de Grace city leaders, County Council members and County Executive Barry Glassman last September and October.

“Bottom line, it was without a doubt a major oversight on my part since the resolution had never been sent,” Glenn wrote.

The County Council has received a copy of the draft resolution as of last week, and Glenn plans to speak about the situation at the next meeting of the Havre de Grace City Council, scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 21.

Vincenti sent Glenn an email in reply to his apology, thanking Glenn for “your immediate response and apology on this issue.”

“Councilmembers have been actively involved in conversations with not only the municipalities, but the County Executive and others in reference to this issue,” Vincenti stated regarding the water line.

Glassman has been opposed to the cities using the county line to transport water for their own use, noting the challenges of mixing municipal water with county water and whether approval would be needed from the Maryland Department of the Environment would be needed to do so.

Another issue is the cities using infrastructure that county water customers have paid to build — water and sewer infrastructure are covered by enterprise funds supported only by Harford County ratepayers, separate from the county general fund that receives property tax revenue from county and municipal residents.

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Councilmember Beulah, whose district includes Havre de Grace, commended Glenn for his apology.

“It shows that he’s a person of good character and morals, willing to publicly acknowledge that he made an incorrect statement from the dais,” Beulah said.

He said there have been meetings involving multiple representatives of the municipal governments as well as the county government, such as the county executive’s office, the County Council attorney and the county public works director.

Vincenti sent a letter dated Aug. 29 to Mayors Martin and Patrick McGrady, of Aberdeen, regarding discussions between the municipalities and the county about using the county water line. Vincenti addressed a request from the municipalities that the county create a “new sanitary subdistrict” granting Aberdeen and Havre de Grace temporary use of the county water line.

“Our Council attorney has advised that it is his opinion that it would not be legal for the Council to proceed as you have suggested,” Vincenti wrote. “Therefore, we are unable to assist you in this matter as you have requested.”

Beulah noted the county executive has the final say, "and he’s stated that he’s not going to allow [the municipalities] to use the water line.”

“The bottom line is that anything that the County Council does, the county executive makes the final decision, per the county charter,” Beulah said.

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