Rising Sun -- The Cecil County Board of Commissioners voted, 3-2, last night to amend the county sewer and water plan, in a step toward permitting development of a controversial 300-home development and golf course north of Elkton.
About 150 people attended the board meeting at Rising Sun High School - most of them to voice opposition to the plan. Residents have protested the Aston Pointe project for more than a year, saying it would set a dangerous precedent and accelerate growth in the rural county while diverting water from residents.
"All I want to do is find out what MDE [the Maryland Department of the Environment] has to say," said board President Nelson K. Bolender. "They've told us it must be part of the plan for them to give us an opinion."
Residents said inclusion of the project in the county's water and sewer plan would create a strain on services and pave the way for similar projects. Many wore stickers reminding the commissioners of this fall's election.
"An approval tonight will set the legal base for more development all around Aston Pointe," said Elkton resident Richard Boyce, 66, who said he has lived in the county for 37 years.
Officials of Newark, Del.-based Aston Development Group Inc. told the commissioners that it needed approval of the amendment in order to have a state environmental agency test water capacity and determine if the project is feasible.
They presented a Jan. 27 letter in which an official of the state Department of the Environment confirmed that a heavy caseload has limited its oversight to projects included in county water and sewer plans.
The letter also states that inclusion in the plan would not commit the county to serve the area with public water.
The golf course would be the new site for the Newark Country Club, which is hoping to move from Delaware.
The commissioners have twice rejected the water and sewer amendment, which in its third round received approval from the county planning commission in mid-January.