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Water may limit Emmitsburg's growth

Ashley Andyshak
Frederick News-Post

(9/25) Planners say water may limit how the town grows in the next few years.

However, some residents aren't happy that planners at Jakubiak and Associates, the firm helping the town with its master plan update, is recommending changes to some land use decisions that the town's planning and zoning commission has already made.

The current draft of the town's master plan proposes more development than the town has water for, said planner Chris Jakubiak.

Guidelines established this year by the state Department of the Environment prohibit towns from planning for more development than they have water to support. Jakubiak and Associates did not receive these guidelines until after the planning and zoning commission had voted to approve residential land use designations for several properties.

Emmitsburg's water supply, which comes from Rainbow Lake and five wells, can support 219 additional dwelling units, Jakubiak said. Even this may be an overestimation, since Jakubiak's statistics do not take into account several permits that have already been issued.

The draft master plan proposes an additional 305 dwelling units within town boundaries and 1,220 units through annexations over the next 25 years. Proposed non-residential development would require even more water.

Two new wells are being explored right now, said town manager Dave Haller, but the water from these would not be available for two to three years.

The new wells will cost about $500,000 each to bring online, and could supply water for a total of about 610 additional dwelling units, Jakubiak said.

Both Haller and Jakubiak said development of properties that round out town boundaries, those that alleviate problems such as traffic, and those that would yield a commercial tax base should be given priority in the new comprehensive plan draft.

"Don't plan for water on a hunch," Jakubiak said. "It's too essential to public safety.

"Sometimes we have to make difficult decisions, and I encourage you not to develop a complicated allocation system as an attempt to make everyone happy ... and cause undue hardship on the town."

Haller said the master plan should include notification about the water situation to developers or others who buy land in town.

The water and transportation issue will again be discussed at the October planning and zoning meeting.

Read other news stories related to the Emmitsburg Town Government