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Sep. 1, 2011
The Garrett County commissioners held a public hearing on Saturday morning at Garrett College to receive comments on proposed fee and policy changes to the McHenry Water System. About 200 people attended the two-hour event, with more than 20 voicing their concerns. Most objected to a waterline connection mandate.
Chairman Gregan Crawford said over 1,500 postcards were mailed to McHenry area property owners, notifying them about the hearing.
“This is part of the standard DPU policy from this point on,” Crawford said about the Department of Public Utilities informing people about such events.
The proposed changes include reducing the connection fee from $2,800 to $2,000 and allowing property owners up to five years to connect to the system. Those who do so within that time period could spread the connection cost over a 15-year period at a 1 percent interest rate. After the five-year deadline, the term would be 5 percent for 10 years. This amortization policy would apply only to McHenry Water System connections.
“These proposals change the amortization flexibility, time frame, and payment structure, and significantly lower the connection rates,” Crawford said.
Though the hearing was about connection/user fees and the connection/amortization policy, most of the public comments centered on the fact that numerous property owners will now have to abandon their private wells and pay the county to install water lines to their homes, connect them to the McHenry system, and supply them with water.
“This was crammed down our throats,” said Kim Knox, who lives off Pysell Road.
Several speakers indicated their wells are in good working condition and provide good tasting water. Some wondered if the public system would provide enough water/water pressure for household use and fire suppression.
“I’ve never, since this started, felt like I knew what was going on,” said Pysell Road property owner Marie Broadman about the expansion project.
The previous board of county commissioners held a public hearing on Dec. 7, 2010, on expanding the McHenry Water Service District to include Sandy View Court, Winding Estates Drive, Grand Estates Drive, Quiet Quail Way, Golf Drive, Ruffed Grouse Lane, Sandy Shores Road, Fern Loop, Wisp Mountain Road, Fantasy Lane, Barbara’s Way, Susan’s Way, Marsh Hill Road, Pysell Road, Deep Creek Drive, Gravelly Run Road, Ridgeview Valley Development, Sweet Rewards Development, a portion of Mosser Road, the Garrett County Airport property, and McHenry Business and Technology Park.
No written or verbal commentary about the proposal was received at the hearing, and Commissioners Ernie Gregg and Fred Holliday approved the boundary changes.
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