Table 3 Turf Valley bills, County Council is urged

The Baltimore Sun

Residents wary of how potential chemical pollution could affect development at Turf Valley Resort and Conference Center in Ellicott City are urging the County Council to table three bills aiding the project.

The council will discuss the bills, which, in effect, allow extension of public water and sewerage to about 70 of the 809 acres, at a work session next week and vote on them May 7. The site - slated for a mixed-use development - is within the Planned Service Area, where the county allows public water and sewer.

At a council public hearing Monday night, seven witnesses urged the council to delay action as a way of forcing the owners, Mangione Family Enterprises, to do more environmental testing for chemicals used on the resort's golf courses.

The witnesses opposed the bills, which James M. Irvin, the county public works director, said are normally routine administrative actions that do not require council votes.

The county has never denied a similar request, he said, and because the Mangione land meets the county's technical requirements, "current regulations don't give us the luxury to turn them down" without prompting a lawsuit.

Richard B. Talkin, an attorney for Mangione Family Enterprises, said the real choice is between using public utilities for planned new homes rather than well and septic systems.

The residents argued that testing the Mangiones did in 2005 - showing no danger from chemicals from 13 test sites - was not thorough enough.

But Talkin said that half the land would be left as it is, and the test sites were at places where development is planned. More testing will be done, he said, once projects are ready to proceed. "We think that some of this is blown out of proportion."

Others disagreed.

"I'm concerned about what people don't know" about what's in the ground at Turf Valley, said Peggy Stover-Catha, of Marriottsville.

Angela Beltram, a former County Council member, questioned whether the council really has no choice.

"Why are you here if you can't vote 'no'?" she asked the council.

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