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Confronted with failing septic systems and other waste-water problems, Galesville residents will decide next week if they want a proposed$6 million sewerage system.

Wednesday night, residents asked the county to help alleviate their primary fear: population growth that sewer service could bring to the tiny West River community.

The West River Community Association asked county officials to establish a citizen-based growth management committee, similar to thoseinvestigating development in Parole and Odenton. They also asked officials to begin drafting a plan to limit the sewer system's effect onGalesville.

Residents "don't want to see condominiums and town houses go up," said Bill Woodfield, community association president. "They want to control growth, to keep Galesville a small community."

Under existing zoning, an additional 60 to 90 homes could be built if sewerage is installed.

County health officials want residents toconnect to the Broadwater Water Reclamation Plant across the West River in Shady Side. They say Galesville's more-than 90 failing septic systems pose a health hazard.

In Anne Arundel, residents must petition the county Department of Utilities for sewer service. Petitions will be mailed to about 240 property owners Monday, said Utilities Department spokeswoman Jody Vollmar.

A simple majority must respond favorably by Oct. 15 or the residents will lose a $1.8 million federal grant, which would offset the cost to individual homeowners. With the grant, county officials estimated sewer connection will cost each home $3,300 initially, plus annual fees based on the size of the property and water use.

A public hearing has been set for 7 p.m. Oct. 9 at the Galesville community center.

Ordinarily, county engineerswould begin designing the system immediately, Vollmar said. But, because residents fear sewerage could trigger an overpowering wave of growth, design will be delayed six months while county planners help residents draft growth controls, she said.

If residents don't like the plan, they can reject the sewerage system, Vollmar said.

Although fixed-income residents are concerned about costs, the residents' overwhelming concern is growth, Woodfield said. In the past, the Health Department has barred new growth because of failing septic systems.

"The residents fear if they go ahead and vote on the sewer now, they will lose their leverage to get the county to do a small community growth plan," Woodfield said.

Kathleen Koch, assistant planning and zoning officer, said the Galesville Growth Management Committee will be appointed and meeting by Sept. 26.

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