Concern over flood plain prompts hearing

February 23, 2006|by TIFFANY ARNOLD

Concerned residents have requested a public hearing about Hagerstown Community College's plans to build a road around its campus.

Eight residents want to know how the road will affect the region's flood plain, specifically what will happen to groundwater runoff during a major rainfall, said Sean McKewen, regional chief for Maryland Department of the Enivronment.

"Regardless of whether it's a road being built or a building, there are two main issues," McKewen said. "Where's the water going and how does it get there?"

George Soterin, HCC's director of plant operations and maintenance, announced the request Tuesday during the college's monthly Board of Trustees Meeting.


The hearing is scheduled for March 2.

HCC wants to build a road extending the campus' main loop to ease congestion and traffic, said HCC president Guy Altieri. The plan also calls for renovations to the school's Career Programs Building.

Construction on the $14.9-million project was supposed to begin in January but was delayed five months due to out-of-date flood plain maps, which Soterin said were provided to HCC by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The hearing process likely would push back construction another two months, Soterin said.

Before construction can begin, HCC has to receive authorization from MDE to ensure that the construction does not encourage flooding during heavy rains.

McKewen said it would be at least one month before the state rendered a decision.

Soterin said HCC considered the environmental concerns when the project was drafted. He said the hearing should successfully clear up any questions regarding the matter.

Two of the residents requesting the hearing are members of Citizens for the Protection of Washington County, said the organization's president, Jim Laird.

The Citizens for the Protection of Washington County is a grass-roots organization that focuses on local conservation efforts.

Laird said the organization had been monitoring HCC's plans, though the organization had not formally requested the hearing.

McKewen said MDE officials met with the two individuals from the organization.

If you go

What: Informational hearing on Hagerstown Community College's plans to build a road on campus

When: March 2, 7 p.m.

Where: Kepler Theater, Hagerstown Community College

For more information: Contact the Water Management Administration, Nontidal Wetlands and Waterways Division, 301-689-8150, ext. 306.

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