City set to vote on sending state a sewer program

June 15, 2005|by DANIEL J. SERNOVITZ

HAGERSTOWN - The Hagerstown City Council could vote Tuesday to submit to the state a Sewer Capacity Allocation Program that would limit new connections to the city's sewer system and affect the amount of new residential and commercial development in the city.

During the council's work session Tuesday, officials said the program should be one that the city can modify with permission from the Maryland Department of the Environment.

"We can certainly go back and make additional changes," City Water and Sewer Manager David Shindle said.

The city adopted an interim version of the program in February - part of a larger consent judgment the city entered into with the state in January - while it worked to develop more long-term legislation.


City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said the council needs to adopt the new allocation program wording by its June 21 meeting in order to meet the state's July 11 deadline.

Revisions are anticipated after the submission, following discussions between the city and Department of the Environment.

City Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said he feared several omissions in the plan could cool the city's relationship with Washington County officials, which he characterized as positive over the past several months.

"We have a whole deck of cards, so to speak," Metzner said. "We have to have them on board."

Among the omissions is mention that the city has agreed to allocate a portion of its capacity to the county for a set period of time. Metzner said he feared not mentioning the agreement could upset the County Commissioners and inject speculation the city might take back its allocations in the future.

In addition, he said, the agreement would affect Washington County Hospital's planned move to Robinwood. Under the terms of the program, the hospital's move would cause it to forfeit its current capacity. The hospital, which needs about 240,000 gallons of sewer capacity for the new site, would only be eligible under the plan for up to 15,000 gallons a year in added capacity.

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