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Town Council delay vote on waiving
 church’s sewer fees

Ingrid Mezo
The Gazette

(9/8) During the Emmitsburg town meeting Tuesday, commissioners agreed to again table a local church’s request for a fee waiver, while they consider several options to fairly resolve the problem.

Parishioners from St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church asked town officials on Aug. 15 to grant the church a free sewer connection tap, instead of requiring them to pay $11,000 for it. Church officials told commissioners that the church was billed for tap fees for years, but never used the service.

The church paid about $3,500 for a sewer connection tap inside the church but never used it, since wine and holy water is required to go directly into the ground rather than the sewer.

‘‘There will be no new volume," O’Malley said. ‘‘We’re asking for a change of location, an exchange from the parish hall to the church."

The church wants to construct a handicapped accessible bathroom inside the entrance of the church, so older parishioners can reach it more easily.

‘‘The bathroom would experience minimal usage," O’Malley said in a letter to the town.

One option the town is considering is granting the church credit for the money they paid for the service, and then asking them to pay for the six years of service they did not get billed for after the error was uncovered. This would resolve the problem of paying a connection fee, since paying bills for the service implies that church is already connected to the town’s sewage system. The total amount that the church would have to pay the town would be significantly less expensive than having to pay the connection fee.

But, Commissioner Bill O’Neil urged other board members to resolve the problem in a way that would provide guidelines for dealing with similar problems down the road, rather than just using a quick fix to deal with this particular problem now.

O’Neil submitted an ordinance to amend the town’s municipal code that would allow anyone to make modifications to existing structures designed to promote accessibility for handicapped use without having to pay construction permit fees or enforcing agency fees.

Other town business

* Also on Tuesday, Commissioner O’Neil submitted an ordinance to the board for consideration that would add a fifth commissioner to the board and remove the mayor’s ability to vote along with commissioners.

Mayor James Hoover has also been working with the town’s attorney to draft changes to the Emmitsburg Town Code that would more clearly define the powers of the mayor and the commissioners and would add a fifth commissioner. Town officials are in the preliminary stages of planning what specific text changes they will make to the town code, but would like to have the matter resolved before the next election.

* Town officials approved a zoning text amendment that will require zoning certificate applicants to submit plats prepared by licensed professionals before the town will issue new zoning certificates.

Town officials defined ‘‘licensed professionals" as land surveyors, landscape architects, civil engineers or architects.

The plats will be drawn to scale, and show the actual dimensions of the lot the applicant plans to build on, and will indicate the size, shape and location of the building the applicant plans to erect.

This will give town staff a point of reference to judge whether a new property will impinge upon town infrastructure, Town Planner Mike Lucas said.

* Town staff told commissioners that sewer repairs and upgrades the Emmitsburg Glass company will make as they move from their present site to a new location on Creamery Road will resolve some of the town’s most significant sewage problems.

Most of the town’s sewage problems are related to the failure of Manhole S-15, and this project will make the necessary repairs to that manhole, Lucas said. The project will also make improvements to the town’s sewage plant itself, which will give the system a greater ability to handle a much larger quantity of water than it now can process.

Read other news stories related to the Emmitsburg Town Government