Hampstead town officials are negotiating with the Cordish Co. of Baltimore to acquire land for a water tower north of a Wal-Mart outlet the developer is building.
But first, the Town Council would have to vote next month to amend the town code to allow property outside the town limits to use public water.
Under the proposed agreement, the town would extend its water system to Cordish's North Carroll Shopping Center in exchange for slightly less than an acre for the water tower, two wells and money to build a pump house and main to connect to the town's water supply.
Councilman Lawrence Hentz, who has been negotiating with Cordish, supported the proposal.
"I think it's a win-win-win situation," Hentz said. "We get to reduce the cost of our facility and they get to reduce the cost of their facility."
Hentz said residents would win by getting the water tower at the location they like best -- away from neighborhoods.
Allison Parker, a spokeswoman for the Cordish Co., said the town approached the company with the offer and the company is considering it. She said the land and other donations from Cordish would amount to about $250,000.
"We're doing it just as a good-neighbor approach," Parker said.
The shopping center is outside town limits. The town code does not allow municipal water to anyone outside the town.
In the past, developers and residents who wanted public water had to request annexation, which means paying town property taxes in addition to those charged by the county.
Hentz said the shopping center can't wait for the lengthy annexation process.
Councilman Wayne Thomas said he was wary of the proposal. He said the town would lose potential real estate tax revenue if the shopping center is not annexed.
Hentz said the proposed agreement would provide a way for the developer to compensate the town for the water tower, a structure many residents view as unsightly.
Most of the 20 people at a public hearing Monday night favored putting the tower north of North Carroll Shopping Center rather than near residential areas such as North Carroll Farms -- one of five locations the town is proposing.
Residents say no one wants a tower in their back yard.
But they wouldn't mind seeing one next to the Wal-Mart, Town Manager Kenneth Decker said.
"No one's claiming the Wal-Mart or the rest of the shopping center is the Sistine Chapel," Decker said. "It's going to be a commercial development, and a water tower seems to fit with that."
Residents' second choice, Decker said, seems to be the Garrett property northwest of the shopping center.
The town needs to build a 400,000-gallon, 150-foot-high water tower that is expected to cost $1 million and will be financed through a bond sale.
The tower would serve the north end of town, which is more elevated than the rest of Hampstead.
The tower must be elevated to provide sufficient water pressure, Decker said.