(Dec. 20, 2013) The Worcester County Commissioners will address the concerns of a man who wants his property on Route 50 to get public water and sewer, but on Tuesday they adopted amendments to the county’s comprehensive water and sewer plan that do not include his land.
“This has been vetted numerous times,” Commissioner Madison Bunting told businessman Spiro Buas. “We can’t slow down this process.”
The adopted amendments allow for the expansion of the Riddle Farm Water Planning Area and the Riddle Farm Sewerage Planning Area to provide water and sewer to certain commercially zoned properties located on both the north and south sides of Route 50. Some of the properties are opposite the GlennRiddle development while others are adjacent to it. Some properties east of Holly Grove Road that are designated for public sewer are not designated for public water.
Expansion of the sewer planning area will accommodate the public sewer needs of commercial properties
The sewer expansion project is “truly a public-private partnership,” said attorney Mark Cropper, who represents WGC EDU LLC, the entity undertaking expansion of the sewer plant for GlenRiddle.
When GlenRiddle was developed, developer Goody Taylor constructed water and wastewater treatment plants with the standard agreement that both would eventually be turned over to the county. A clause in that turnover agreement permitted the developer to expand the sewer plant, even though it would be, by that time, a county-owned facility.
WGC EDU LLC must pay the up-front costs of the plant’s expansion and will do that by selling sewer treatment capacity that will be available after the expansion.
The Worcester County Commissioners were amenable to the project because Cropper’s client would be footing the bill and owners of commercial properties along Route 50 would have the ability to develop them.
To make the project worthwhile financially, the developer included additional properties in the service area that have the ability to purchase units of wastewater treatment.
Working out details of the sewer area expansion took approximately six years.
Buas was unaware of the expansion project and would have tried to have his property included if he had known. His property, east of Holly Grove Road, is adjacent to the property at the end of the sewer expansion area.
Commissioner Louise Gulyas wanted additional properties included in the sewer expansion area. Years ago, there was talk of running public water and sewer to Herring Creek on both sides of Route 50, she said.
“Our residents need the opportunity to tie into this,” she said.
Cropper said it was in his client’s best interest to have a sewer planning area as large as possible, but for various reasons, residential properties were not included.
“None of this will occur unless the Maryland Department of Planning concurs,” Cropper said. “It may not pass muster if residential properties are included.”
County attorney Sonny Bloxom added that owners of residential properties would not be able to pay for the wastewater treatment capacity.
Cropper said including additional properties in the sewer expansion area could be risky. His client could not risk not having sufficient wastewater treatment capacity for big box stores anticipated for the property near Walmart and Home Depot.
“It we use [wastewater treatment capacity] up for other areas, big box stores won’t come,” Cropper said.
Buas’ eight-acre property has three houses and three cottages on two lots, but he could develop it if he had public sewer service. Although he said he wanted the sewer area planning maps to include his property, he added that he did not “want to ruin many years of work for people.” He also said he was “ready to hook up regardless of the expense of what I need to buy.”
“You’ve made your point,” Bud Church, president of the Worcester County Commissioners, told Buas. “You’re one piece of the puzzle. We will look at your proposal after the first of the year.”
Mark Wittmyer, owner of Crabs to Go on the north side of Route 50 near the Route 589 intersection, also told the commissioners he wants to be included in the sewer expansion area. His property, he said, is the closest commercial property with a failing septic system.
“We need [public] sewer for a lot of different reasons,” Wittmyer said. “We’ve had the need for 20 years.”
Church added that request to Buas’ request.
“We’ll look at your problems,” Church said. “We’ll address it.
Church also said the commissioners had the resolution they needed to adopt that day, which they did.