County bans sewer hookups for 4 months; Move intended to curb growth on peninsulas

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The Baltimore County Council imposed last night a four-month moratorium on sewer hookups on the Bowleys Quarters and Back River Neck peninsulas, an effort to shut the door to development of up to 1,300 lots in the environmentally sensitive areas.

The moratorium, approved by a 6-0 vote, is intended to curb growth on the two peninsulas, where a sewer system is being built to replace failing septic systems.

The measure suspends new sewer hookups, needed to build homes, while the county Planning Board comes up with growth management controls for the communities.

County officials say the moratorium is intended to help protect a fragile ecosystem where modest homes -- served by septic systems that have been failing since the 1970s -- have been built along creeks that flow into the Chesapeake Bay.

Councilman Vincent J. Gardina, a Perry Hall Democrat, added about 200 properties last week to the area proposed for the moratorium by county officials, including a section of Bowleys Quarters reaching north to Edwards Lane. The previous boundary was Susquehanna Avenue, south of Edwards Lane.

George G. Perdikakis, chief of the county's Department of Environmental Protection and Resource Management, said yesterday that the moratorium has prompted only a few calls from residents since it was proposed last month.

Tom Lehner, president of the Bowleys Quarters Improvement Association, said the moratorium may have generated few complaints because county officials haven't informed residents about it.

He said residents want county officials to be careful in planning for their communities -- and work harder at keeping the affected communities informed.

"No one moved down here with the intention of seeing the whole area built out. After all, we've got the Chesapeake Bay in our back yard," Lehner said. "But at the same time, no one really understands what's going on with this, and that's because of a lack of information from the county."

County officials say the moratorium should come as no surprise. The sewer system, being constructed in phases that began in 1993, was intended to serve the 1,200 existing homes on the two peninsulas, they say.

Although the sewer system has the capacity to serve twice that number of homes, it was never intended to accommodate property owners who want to build homes on vacant lots, county officials said.

The county won approval to build the sewer system from the state Department of the Environment and Army Corps of Engineers on the condition that the sewers not lead to more development.

"That area's very environmentally sensitive," Perdikakis said yesterday.

The council also agreed last night to pay the Baltimore law firm of Piper & Marbury $35,000 over the next three months to handle legal work focused on whether the 68th Street Dump/Industrial Enterprises site in Rosedale should be listed as a federal Superfund cleanup site. The county owns 5 acres of the 160-acre site, which was closed by a court order 30 years ago.

The council also approved a bill to allow the county to secure a 10-year loan from the state for $414,000 worth of dredging work on Schoolhouse Cove, Greenhill Cove, Muddy Gut and Sue Creek.

Pub Date: 3/02/99

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