By Guy Leonard, St. Mary's County Times, guyleonard [at] countytimes.net
HOLLYWOOD, Md.—The Commissioners of St. Mary's County approved a land easement Tuesday, May 24, for a new water tower in Charlotte Hall with some assurances from the Metropolitan Commission (MetCom) that it would only be used to provide more water for fire suppression in the northern end of the county for the near future.
Civic association leaders and residents have been worried that an additional water tower would be a harbinger of increased residential growth before the county could complete a town center plan for Charlotte Hall that would strictly control construction.
The promulgation of a plan, the first of its kind for Charlotte Hall, has become a greater issue for county commissioners, especially since traffic problems on Route 5 in North County have continued to grow worse.
These traffic problems for a time meant there was nearly a defacto moratorium on development in Charlotte Hall.
Commissioner John O'Connor, was particularly concerned that MetCom Executive Director Scott Bundy give assurances about the present purpose of the water tower.
"The water tower is a real point of contention in the northern part of the county," O'Connor said.
"We have no intentions right now to put mains [main water lines] in under the road," Bundy said, apparently satisfying commissioners.
"That's the openness I was looking for," O'Connor said. "There's no veiled secrecy here."
Bundy told commissioners that it would be about a year before the water tower, slated to be constructed just off of Route 235.
Commissioner Mike Hewitt said he believed that both projects could be completed concurrently.
"Hopefully by then we'll have this plan done," Hewitt said.
Commissioner Tom Jarboe said it was important to understand that the water tower would be used to help further growth in North County some time in the future.
"To say it's only going to be used for fire suppression is a bit disingenuous," Jarboe said. "That growth won't occur until the plan is complete."