Hampstead council delays tower agreement vote; Town would let Cordish use water for center if the land is donated


Negotiations with the Cordish Co. have led to an agreement in which the Baltimore-based developer of North Carroll Shopping Center will donate land for a new water tower if Hampstead allows the center to use the town's water supply.

The deal was not written and ready for approval by the Hampstead Town Council on Monday night because of a death in the family of a Cordish negotiator. The council postponed action on the agreement until next month.

The Town Council had been expected to approve the deal Monday, but would have had to pass an ordinance allowing the town to sell its water to businesses not in its corporate limits.

North Carroll Shopping Center, where a Wal-Mart and Burger King are being built, is outside the north end of town.

The ordinance that would allow property outside of town to buy public water would give the council the discretion to decide -- case by case -- whether such requests are in the town's interest.

Town Manager Kenneth Decker said it could also apply to residents who live outside town and want to buy town water because their well is about to run dry. In such cases, Decker said, the town will ask county government and residents to cover the costs.

The water tower deal with Cordish is being negotiated for the town by Councilman Larry Hentz.

Councilman Wayne Thomas was out of town Monday night, but sent a letter to the council opposing the ordinance. When the idea was introduced two weeks ago, Thomas said the deal would benefit Cordish more than Hampstead.

If the shopping center is annexed into the town, Thomas argued, Hampstead would gain the long-term benefit of annual property tax revenue.

Hentz said Cordish wants to avoid the lengthy process of annexation, and Hampstead approached the developer.

"They have said annexation would be a deal-killer, and I believe them," Hentz said.

The shopping center has two wells and doesn't need public water, Hentz said. However, Thomas said, the shopping center would need to build a water tower. This arrangement would get Cordish off the hook for building a tower.

Allison Parker, a spokeswoman for the Cordish Co., said the land and other donations from Cordish total about $250,000.

"We're doing it as a good-neighbor approach," Parker said.

In the deal, the center would also donate the two wells it owns on the property and pay for them to be connected to the town's water supply. The Cordish Co. would also pay for building a pump house next to the wells and tower and accompanying fees.

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.

At a hearing, residents favored the center over four other sites.

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