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Funkstown Moose gets break on water, sewer hookup

February 16, 1999|By ANDREA ROWLAND

FUNKSTOWN - After a heated one-hour discussion, the Funkstown Mayor and Town Council voted Monday to allow the Moose lodge to hook up to water and sewer service at rates that were in place before a January increase.

Funkstown Moose Lodge 2435 is to be built just outside the town on Alternate U.S. 40.

Town officials approved lodge project plans last fall, but a January town ordinance that increases tap-on fees for new commercial development has created financial hardship for lodge officials, said Richard L. Reichenbaugh, president of Associated Engineering Sciences, Inc.

The Moose was under the impression that water and sewer line connection fees would amount to $2,000 each, said Reichenbaugh, whose company is doing engineering work for the lodge.

The ordinance, which took effect on Jan. 1, raised those rates to some $14,000, said Assistant Mayor Paul N. Crampton, Jr.

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The new ordinance bases fees on the rates the city of Hagerstown charges to developers of similar structures, said Town Attorney Robert Kuczynski. Lodge officials could have avoided the increase had they paid for permits last fall, he said.

Kuczynski said under the ordinance, rate negotiations were legal.

Franklin Spielman, governor of Funkstown Lodge 2435 of the Loyal Order of Moose, said lodge officials waited to apply because they had to secure easements for property over which lines would run, and were not prepared for so large a jump in fees.

Reichenbaugh asked the Mayor and Town Council to grandfather the hook-up fee back to the $4,000 agreed upon before the ordinance took effect.

The exchange sparked an emotional outburst from Councilman Kimberly Ramer, a member of the Loyal Order of Moose, who said the rate increase would discourage new businesses from coming to Funkstown.

"We waited to the last minute to throw something on an organization," he said. "This is so important to a lot of people, for the community," said Ramer.

Councilman Richard Nigh made a motion to let the Moose pay the original $4,000 fee, but it was not seconded.

Ramer said Mayor Robert L. Kline told him he could not vote due to a conflict of interest.

Crampton suggested the town split the cost difference with lodge officials.

"Let's let the town help out a little bit," he said.

Ramer accused Kline of being against the project.

Kline disagreed, asking Spielman what the council could do to help the project move forward.

"It seems like we've been hitting so many roadblocks," said Spielman.

In addition to the connection fee increase, the agreement was stalled due to council concerns about the size of the water line.

A preliminary contract stipulated a four-inch water line, but some council members voiced concerns about the smaller line.

Crampton moved the original $4,000 hook-up fee be charged if lodge officials would install an eight-inch water main.

Spielman said lodge officials couldn't afford an eight-inch line.

Kuczynski said the contract would have to be revised.

"In the event a four-inch water line is constructed, nobody, including God, can hook into it," he said.

No decision on the size of the water line was made Monday night, but the Town Council voted to allow the Moose to tap into the system for the $4,000 they would have been charged before Jan. 1.

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