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Members of the Harford County Council face a potentially tough choice starting next week when they consider the spring update of the Master Water and Sewer Plan.

The plan update proposes only a handful of changes in service priorities for individual properties, but one change it doesn’t cover concerns the Aumar Village commercial development at Routes 1 and 152 in Fallston, where area residents have long been wary of plans for the property.

Aumar Village is controlled by the politically well-connected developer Michael Euler, who is trying to get 11 acres included in the plan to receive public water and sewer service.

Without inclusion in the master plan, which must be approved by the county council, Euler won’t be able to follow through on his plan to put a supermarket, fast food restaurant and other commercial buildings on 15 acres zoned B3 general business.

Euler sent a letter to Harford County Executive David Craig in January asking for the 11 acres to be included in the master plan update to receive water and sewer. But thus far, Craig’s public works department has rejected the change and did not recommend it in the plan update, which was sent to the county council earlier this month and is due to have a public hearing April 6.

Darryl Ivins, chief engineer for the department of public works’ water and sewer division, explained the denial to Euler’s request in a follow-up letter.

“After reviewing your request carefully, the Division of Water and Sewer has determined that the property is not located within the Fallston Sanitary Subdistrict, and therefore is not eligible to be served by public utilities,” Ivins wrote. “This requirement is stated in the Harford County Code and the 2004 Land Use Element Plan.”

In a brief telephone interview Tuesday afternoon, Ivins said he was not sure if the county council would introduce amendments to meet Euler’s request. As with the master plan itself, the council has the final authority to include additional properties in the Fallston Sanitary Subdistrict and must do so by passing legislation.

The irony is last spring, both the administration and the county council approved the B3 zoning for Euler’s property as part of the countywide comprehensive rezoning process, a fact Euler pointed out in his letter to Craig.

Since then, Euler has gone through the necessary steps of holding a required public input meeting for his project. On March 17, the project had the required Development Advisory Committee review, where Ivins pointed out a significant part of the project can’t go forward unless it is included in the sanitary subdistrict to receive public water and sewer service. Four acres Euler owns closest to the intersection are already within the service district.

The county council could amend the plan update to include the entire Aumar Village project within the service area. If it does, however, it faces a potential dilemma.

Euler had a long running court battle with the county council over inclusion of a large property he controls between Route 147 (Harford Road) and Connolly Road in the sanitary subdistrict so he can develop homes there. The county refused to bend and Euler abandoned his court challenge in 2007, after the Maryland Court of Special Appeals ruled against him and in favor of the council. Although the case began years before, the current council decided to continue defending it, even as Euler lobbied hard to have the county bow out.

If the council were to approve extending the boundaries of the Fallston service area to accommodate the Aumar Village property, it could open the door to another challenge from Euler to also include his Harford Road property.

Euler stands to fare better with another equally controversial project of his, Blake’s Legacy, off Red Pump Road north of Bel Air, where he and the owners of the property, members of the Blake family, are seeking a change in water and sewer service priority from six to 10 years to zero to five years. There are 114 single-family houses planned on 80 acres. The public works department has recommended that the county council approve the requested priority change.

In a letter to DPW’s Ivins written in early February, Lou Schaffer, Blake’s Legacy’s project planner, noted, “this project is currently awaiting preliminary plan approval and this is expected to occur in the near future.”

The master plan spring update also contains a request from Father Martin’s Ashley, the drug and alcohol treatment center in Oakington, to have its onsite septic system included in the plan so it can seek state review and approval of future system improvements.

The city of Aberdeen is also seeking several changes to its section of the plan, some of which deal with pushing back its timetable for making water system improvements from the 2007-09 period to 2011-2014.


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