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Bel Air building moratorium could end soon, town officials say

A year and a half old moratorium on most new construction, caused by concerns about having enough water supply, could soon be lifted, Bel Air town officials say. One of the main water supply tanks near Harford Mall is pictured in the background.
A year and a half old moratorium on most new construction, caused by concerns about having enough water supply, could soon be lifted, Bel Air town officials say. One of the main water supply tanks near Harford Mall is pictured in the background. (AEGIS FILE PHOTO / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Bel Air town officials anticipate a year-and-a-half-long moratorium on new construction projects in the town limits could be lifted by the end of 2014.

The resumption of building depends on state approval of a memorandum of understanding between Bel Air, Harford County and Maryland American Water, which supplies water to town residents, Town Administrator James Fielder said.

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Fielder said the MOU applies to the existing agreement between Maryland American and Harford County regarding its purchases of water from the county during an emergency, such as a drought.

The privately owned water company uses Winters Run just west of the town for its principal supply, but it has the ability to receive water from Harford County's system, which is supplied from other more reliable sources.

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The embargo on issuing building permits for any projects that would increase water use in Bel Air has been in place since April 2013. It was imposed by the Harford County Health Department at the direction of the Maryland Department of the Environment while town, county and state officials secured a backup source of water.

Fielder said the memorandum must be signed by all parties involved, and it must be reviewed by the Health Department and MDE, and approved by the Maryland Public Service Commission, which regulates the rates Maryland American charges its Bel Air customers.

The town commissioners were excited to hear that the moratorium could be lifted soon, although how much impact it will have remains to be seen, as there is little undeveloped land inside the town limits.

"Planning department, get ready," Mayor Robert Reier said during a work session Oct. 28..

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The mayor also asked Fielder to "extend our gratitude" to county officials who worked with the town and Maryland American on the MOU.

Maryland American and county officials could not be reached for comment.

Deputy DPW director named

Charlie Dawson, who has worked as the town's associate engineer for 14-and-a-half years, has been promoted to deputy public works director, according to DPW Director Steve Kline.

"I really believe that he and I can be a great team," Kline said of Dawson.

Dawson's promotion took effect Wednesday. Dawson had been serving as an interim deputy director since Kline was promoted from deputy director to director in August, following the retirement of Randy Robertson.

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