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Metzner's prescription: Follow the court's ruling

May 02, 2003

Hagerstown Councilman Lew Metzner, who's shown his ability to compromise on issues like rental registration and the city's anti-cruising ordinance, recently proposed a plan to break an impasse that could cost the county government a $650,000 grant. With a deadline nearing, Metzner's idea is worth a look.

Washington County are locked in a dispute over the city's annexation policy. It requires those who want city water or sewer service to agree to annex - now if the tract in question abuts the city line, or in the future if the city expands to reach the affected land.

The city argues that it needs the additional revenue annexation will provide, while the county argues that in the past the city accepted state and federal grants that obligate it to serve areas outside the city limits.

Because neither side will yield, both have not signed off on an agreement that will bring the county $650,000 in state money to interconnect city and county sewer systems.

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To decide which view is correct, the county and some local builders have filed suit. The problem is that the suit won't be heard until September, while the state's deadline for accepting or refusing the grant is June 30.

Metzner proposes this compromise would work in this way: Both sides would sign the agreement, with language attached that would bind each to accept the court's ruling.

If the court ruled the county was correct, the city would have to drop its annexation policy. If the court ruling favored the city, the county would have to swallow the annexation policy.

To that language we would add this: That both city or county government would accept the ruling as final and agree not to appeal. It's vital that both governments move on to a relationship that involves more cooperation and less confrontation. If Metzner's proposal gets things moving in that direction, citizens will owe him a debt of gratitude.

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