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Black Farm annexation may hinge on water; Manchester officials say state tests must verify sufficient supply, quality


The outcome of a proposal for Manchester to annex the Black Farm may depend on the quality and quantity of water found on the 157-acre tract, town officials say.

The need for drinkable water is always a concern for the town. Springs provide much of its drinking water, and the costly process of drilling wells often fails to find an adequate supply.

The town charter requires that developers guarantee new water at the rate of 500 gallons a day for each housing unit, said Philip Arbaugh, the town manager.

That water must meet a standard of quality determined by state environmental officials, he said.

Town seeks verification

The Black Farm -- six parcels mostly east of Route 30 and south of Lineboro Road near Fridinger Mill Road -- has a sufficient quantity of water, say the developers, who want to build more than 200 homes on the site.

Builder Martin K. P. Hill and his business partners own much of the property. James Martin owns a tract west of Route 30.

With annexation, the town would become responsible for providing water and sewer service and maintaining infrastructure, including streets.

At a public hearing on annexation last week, after Hill made a brief presentation, five town residents asked questions seeking details about the number of acres and housing units.

Some questions unanswered

They also asked about water supply and how traffic would be affected.

Town officials had no answers, other than to say the developers' test reports seemed to indicate a sufficient quantity of water was available.

"Those reports have or will be submitted to state environmental officials, who will have to decide if they are accurate and whether the quality [of the water] is acceptable," Arbaugh said.

If the water quality is substandard, annexation of Black Farm would be put off until the developer could drill new wells that meet Maryland Department of the Environment standards, Arbaugh said.

State has next step

Quentin Banks, a spokesman for the department said MDE engineers are evaluating the developer's initial reports to determine their accuracy.

If the quantity is sufficient, water samples would have to be submitted to determine if the quality meets the state's safe drinking water standards, Banks said.

MDE has not received samples from the Black Farm property, he said.

Pub Date: 2/19/99

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