xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Harford County Council approves Freys Road sewer service resolution

The Harford County Council has approved a petition to extend public sewer service to 12 homes along Freys Road in Edgewood, despite objections from one council member that six of the 12 property owners are concerned about being able to pay for the service.
The Harford County Council has approved a petition to extend public sewer service to 12 homes along Freys Road in Edgewood, despite objections from one council member that six of the 12 property owners are concerned about being able to pay for the service. (Google Maps)

Harford County Councilman James McMahan went to bat for his fellow senior citizens with his recent vote against a council resolution approving the extension of public sewer service to the 500 block of Freys Road in Edgewood, citing concerns about elderly residents on fixed incomes taking on the extra cost of more than $1,500 in annual sewer assessments.

“As I speak tonight as a senior citizen, I look to the fact, where would I be if I were a resident of Freys Road?” McMahan, 79, asked. “How can I afford another $1,500 a year for a water and sewer assessment, or how can I afford as much as $15,000 for a hookup or how can I afford a grinder [pump] to hook up? I can’t, I’m a senior resident of Freys Road.”

Advertisement

McMahan, who represents great Bel Air, was outvoted, though, as the council voted 6-1 in favor of Resolution 018-17 during its Jan. 9 meeting. The 12 affected property owners, whose homes are along the Bush River, voted 6-6 last June on a petition to the county to obtain sewer service in place of septic systems. The split vote was adequate under county regulations to allow the project to be placed before the council for its approval.

“Unfortunately, this is one of those situations that is impossible to navigate without placing an undue burden on someone,” Councilman Mike Perrone, whose district includes Edgewood, said.

Advertisement
Advertisement

The Harford County Health Department had classified the majority of septic systems as failing, since they are too close to the underground water table and the river’s surface waters.

Perrone said he thinks the county’s petition system for sewer service, in which a petition must have at least 50 percent support to move to the council, “strikes the best possible balance of interests.”

He said he would not have supported the project if property owners voted 7-5 against the petition.

“With the vote being tied 6-6, and with the potential harm that could be done by failed septic systems within a few dozen feet of the Bush River, I think we need to move forward on this,” Perrone said.

Advertisement

Of those who voted against the petition, McMahan said: “Six of those folks don’t know where the money’s coming from.”

The estimated cost of building new infrastructure is $695,000, of which $270,000 is expected to be covered by Maryland Department of the Environment grants. A low-interest loan from the state would cover the remainder.

The property owners would each be assessed $1,582 a year for 30 years as the county repays the loan at 2 percent interest. The county will provide and maintain grinder sewer pumps, but the property owners must pay plumbers to disconnect from septic and connect to sewer.

That cost can range from a few thousand dollars to $15,000, Julie Mackert, the health department’s director of environmental health, said during a Jan. 2 council public hearing.

Councilman Patrick Vincenti said . 9 that he had visited the neighborhood, talked with some residents and received emails “from both sides of the issue.”

“Even though it may be a burden in the long run, I do believe it is the right thing to do, not only for the environment but also for the property owners,” said Vincenti, who is running for council president this year.

Once the petition resolution was passed, McMahan moved to approve Resolution 019-17, which amends the fall 2017 update to the county’s Master Water and Sewer Plan — adopted by the council Oct. 10, 2017 — to include the 12 Freys Road properties. The master plan is updated every six months.

The council approved Resolution 019-17 unanimously.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement