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A Lancaster, Pa., company will get $19.5 million to upgrade Aberdeen’s ENR plant, after the city council awarded the bid for the project to Wickersham Construction and Engineering Inc. at its meeting Monday.

Besides that award, the council also introduced a bill that would let the city recoup fees paid to build water or sewer lines, as well as approved final plats for Aberdeen Corporate Park and the 132-home Eagles Rest development.

Wickersham had the lowest of nine bids on the ENR project, public works director Matt Lapinsky said. The bid process began Jan. 21.

The original engineer’s estimate was $25.8 million and some bids went as high as $26 million, Lapinsky said.

“It was a tight bid all the way around,” he said.

Lapinsky is still waiting for the Maryland Department of the Environment to approve the contract, and the council’s action is contingent upon that approval.

The project’s cost to the city would be about $9 million, he said.

The ordinance introduced recoup of water and sewer fees would allow the city to collect fees to reimburse developers or property owners for the costs of building water or sewer facilities.

“We don’t anticipate needing this, but if we expended city funds, we wouldn’t be able to reimburse ourselves,” City Manager Doug Miller said.

Councilwoman Ruth Ann Young spoke in support of the ordinance.

“I firmly believe that we need this and truly appreciate the care that I thought went into drafting this particular document,” she said.

The council approved the final plat for Aberdeen Corporate Park, comprising 35.5 acres on Middleton Road between West Bel Air Avenue and Route 22.

The property would include three office buildings totaling 250,000 square feet and two retail pad sites.

The final plat establishes public easements on the property and forest conservation areas, Amy DiPietro, of Morris & Ritchie Associates Inc., the project’s engineer, said.

The council also approved seven plats for Eagles Rest, a plan that was originally received in 2007 and is being revised for drainage upgrades.

The subdivision would include 133 single-family homes on 59 acres off Aldino-Stepney Road.

DiPietro noted a road would be built between the project and The Village at Carsins Run, being built by Presbyterian Home of Maryland, that is intended to connect the developments.

Young said she is still worried about increased traffic in the area.

“I need to be evenhanded, in that when the folks from Carsins Run were here, I expressed my concern regarding Aldino-Stepney Road, and I’m expressing my concern here,” she said, reiterating that she thinks a traffic light is needed at Route 22 and Aldino-Stepney.

“I heard an additional lane is to be added on the Aldino-Stepney side, but I have a feeling someone could sit there in that separate lane before they could safely get out,” she said.

Planning and Community Development Director Phyllis Grover announced the release of the city’s 2009 planning report, noting the Board of Appeals had a busy year with 16 cases and the city is continuing to work with Harford Transit, county government and Aberdeen Proving Ground on the multimodal transit station.

“That continues to proceed in a good fashion. We do need funding for that to move forward and I know the mayor’s been an advocate for that,” she said.

Miller discussed the proposal to revise the city’s charter and said another work session, on Monday, would be added to the council’s schedule to work on the charter amendment.

During the public comment period, Karen Heavey said a Harford County Council resolution mentioned several items regarding water and sewer changes that pertain to Aberdeen.

She said it would be nice if the city posted those items together or explained what they are.

Lapinsky replied that he would be glad to give a briefing on the water and sewer changes next week. He said it just relates to existing development happening in the city.

Two PTSA representatives from Aberdeen High School asked the council if it would help support the school’s attempts to hold its first after-prom party.

They said they have approached the Bel Air Athletic Club, the Arena Club and Ripken Stadium, but would prefer to keep the event in Aberdeen.

Both Heavey and former councilman Mike Hiob urged the council to hold a public hearing for the charter amendment, although one is not required.

Miller also told the council that the State Senate’s Budget and Taxation Committee is considering eliminating paying highway user fees to local municipalities.

The city’s highway user fees have already been slashed by about $600,000.

“If we were to replace that, that would mean a 6 percent increase in our tax rate,” Miller said.

Mayor Mike Bennett spoke out against that possibility.

“I think it goes without saying we have no intention of raising our property tax by 6 or 7 percent, so we are relying on [Maryland Municipal League] to carry that message to the legislature,” he said.


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