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Hearing set to discuss water


The Carroll commissioners will hold a public hearing tomorrow on connection fees to a new water main in Sykesville, a line that would be unusable until the county builds a $15 million water treatment plant on Piney Run Lake.

Officials are proceeding with installation of a pipeline along Hollenberry and Obrecht roads and will meet with homeowners who will have to abandon private wells and connect to the public water system.

The new main would run from the plant site at the southern end of Hollenberry Road and down Obrecht Road and would affect about 13 properties. But, until the plant is built - and it does not have a state construction permit - the system will not produce enough water pressure to supply homes.

The project also would involve Sykesville, which owns part of Obrecht Road and has refused the county an easement to build on its property.

"The No. 1 question at the hearing will be whether or not they have to hook up," said Douglas E. Myers, county public works director. "The law says, if the line runs past your house, the answer is 'yes.' "

County law requires "every abutting property owner, after due notice, shall make a connection" within a year after a water main is constructed.

"We have to have a hearing before we can construct the pipeline so people affected can see the plan," said Myers. "But, until the plant or a water storage tank is built, there is not enough pressure. They can't hook up."

Commissioners Robin Bartlett Frazier and Donald I. Dell are pushing for construction of the Piney Run plant and improvements it would necessitate, such as the pipeline and an access road. They have budgeted nearly $500,000 to widen and pave Hollenberry Road and purchase easements from property owners.

Frazier and Dell also voted to increase connection fees - set at $4,725 for water and $4,500 for sewer hookups - and they established maintenance charges that vary by property, based on each site's road front footage. Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge voted against the measure because, she said, she opposed maintenance fees. Gouge also has steadfastly opposed the plant.

Connection and maintenance fees help pay for capital improvements, such as the proposed treatment plant. New development also finances public projects.

"It may be five to 10 years before these developments," Gouge said. "How are you going to pay" for the plant?

Gouge and Dell said they would review estimates from the county comptroller before making a decision.

At the public hearing, Myers will limit discussion to the water main and connection requirements. He will refuse comments on the proposed plant, a project that faces rising opposition from South Carroll residents.

The hearing opens at 7 p.m. at Piney Ridge Elementary School, 6315 Freedom Ave., Sykesville. Information: 410-386-2044.

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