The Westminster Planning Commission took the first step toward clearing the water at the Carroll County YMCA last night when it unanimously approved the association's request to hook up to the city water system.
The YMCA has been plagued with bacteria in its water system since it opened its new Washington Road facility 11 months ago.
Although the YMCA building is slightly outside the county master plan boundary for public utilities -- which stops at Carroll Community College -- city planners agreed to a "special exemption."
"This would be a piecemeal change, granted because the Y is a service-oriented agency and plans no further expansion," said Thomas Beyard, director of planning and public works.
Five years ago, when the association was planning the new building, city officials denied a similar request to extend the water lines, saying the facility was outside the planned service area for public water and sewer.
"Now we have information and know the existing system is not working," Mr. Beyard said.
In pleading his case, David Stevenson, the YMCA executive director, called the current well "troublesome." Patrons, including children in the Y's day care program, often must use bottled water, he said.
"The Health Department has helped us to provide safe drinking water, but this is a Band-Aid approach and not what we want to offer the community," Mr. Stephenson said.
As part of the agreement, the Y would agree to pay for the extended water and sewer lines, and a pumping station. The project would cause "no cost burden" for the city, Mr. Beyard said.
The commission's recommendation will go to the City Council for action at its meeting Monday.
"With this planning action, I am sure the council will act favorably also," Mr. Beyard said.
After the city's ruling, the county commissioners will take a turn at the proposal.
"I can't imagine the county would object," Mr. Beyard said. "We have Ned Cueman's approval." Mr. Cueman is the county planning director.
The state has final approval in the process, which Mr. Beyard called "not hard-fought but too long."
Mr. Stevenson said the YMCA's board of directors will wait until that final approval before beginning to raise money for the project.