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Westminster Adopts New Water and Sewer Allocation PolicyFocus on Commercial and Industrial Development and Multi-Family Residential
Westminster, MD – The Westminster Mayor and Common Council unanimously adopted a new water and sewer allocation policy at their regularly scheduled meeting on March 26, 2018. The new policy prioritizes new commercial and industrial projects and multi-family residential construction. City staff will begin accepting and reviewing development applications under the new allocation policy effective April 9, 2018.Westminster’s new water and sewer allocation policy, enacted by Resolution No. 18-04, establishes an annual amount of water and sewer capacity to be allocated each year. It provides for a one-time allocation category to ensure that projects in progress could move forward and allocates the balance of the City’s available water and sewer capacity in even increments over the next seven years - the planning horizon selected by Mayor Joe Dominick and the Common Council’s Economic Development Committee, comprised of Council President Robert Wack and Councilmember Greg Pecoraro.
Under Westminster’s new policy, 70 percent of the annual water and sewer allocation is set aside for commercial and industrial projects and 30 percent is earmarked for residential projects, almost exclusively for multi-family residential projects within the City’s corporate boundaries; Westminster provides water and sewer services to areas outside its boundaries. Westminster’s Comprehensive Plan emphasizes the need for new housing types to address the needs of young professional, empty nesters, and others.
The Mayor and Common Council’s adoption of the new water and sewer allocation policy occurred approximately nine months after the City temporarily suspended the processing of development applications that required a net new water allocation. During the permitting process of the Gesell Well as a stand-alone water source, the Well was found to be under the influence of surface water from Little Pipe Creek; this necessitated additional water filtration measures before the Gesell Well could qualify for a Certificate of Potability from the Maryland Department of the Environment. While the application suspension was in effect, the Mayor, the Economic Development Committee, and City staff worked to craft a new water and sewer allocation policy.
Regarding adoption of Resolution No. 18-04, Councilmember Pecoraro, who chairs the Common Council’s Economic Development Committee, stated, “The new water and sewer allocation policy recognizes that Westminster’s water and sewer capacity is constrained and ensures that the City maximizes the use of these limited resources for the continued growth and prosperity of the community. The policy provides clarity, transparency, and predictability so that the development community will understand how the City’s available water and sewer capacity will be allocated in the foreseeable future.”
Mayor Dominick added, “The members of the Common Council and I are working diligently to identify new water sources and to enhance our sewer capacity. The City’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2019 includes funding to complete the second phase of the Gesell Well project, which will provide new allocatable water.
The budget proposal also includes $1 million in funding for the City’s continuing effort to reduce inflow and infiltration into the sewer system, restoring sewer treatment capacity.”
Council President Wack commented, “Addressing the City’s water and sewer constraints has been one of the most significant challenges that I’ve encountered during my 15 years on the Common Council. The new water and sewer allocation policy provides the foundation for advancing the goals of the City’s Strategic Plan, which include enhancing our commercial and industrial tax base and offering a variety of housing options in Westminster. “