By Brett Buccheri and Jessica Ricks
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writers
The Baltimore County Council met Tuesday to discuss the proposal to approve three contracts that would provide on-call consulting services for stormwater assessment and design of the county’s ponds.
If approved, the three contracts could cost the county up to $6 million, which would come from the capital budget from fiscal year 2016.
David Lykens, the county’s deputy director of Environmental Protection and Sustainability, told the council during Tuesday’s work session that three firms would be provided with contracts if the council approves the plan.
Pennoni & Marble, Dewberry Consultants, and Wallace Montgomery are the only firms for the job because of the large-scale upkeep of the ponds, which are part of the storm drain system, Lykens said.
“When we get to larger and more complex ponds the job becomes more difficult,” Lykens said. “We do the easy ones ourselves, but it’s getting harder to find easy ones.”
According to council documents, the firms would assess, plan, design and permit water quality retrofits, storm water management pond conversions and best management practices. Topographic survey services, construction management and inspection services may also be part of the job.
Councilman Wade Kach, R-District 3, expressed some concerns over the finances behind the proposal. Lykens responded by saying it would be less efficient if the county did the job itself because it would require more programs and hiring more people.
In other action, the council discussed Resolution 44-16, which entails the purchase of two development rights easements totaling approximately 435 acres.
The two parcels of farmland could be part of the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Program. The two easements are located in the Freeland and the Hydes areas of the county and are within Agricultural Preservation Priority Areas, council documents said.
The total cost would be just over $3,000. The state would be responsible for around $1,600 and the county would pay just under $1,400, which may be financed by general funds and general obligation bonds.
The Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation Program is an important piece in Baltimore County’s preservation strategy because it emphasizes the longevity of productive farmland to boost the state’s farming industry, council documents said.
With the addition of these two easements, the county’s land preservation goal of 80,000 acres will soon be achieved as the total acreage already preserved is 63,555 acres.
If the motion to preserve the one dairy farm and one grain farm is approved, the next step in the process is a settlement with the landowners.
The County Council will vote on the pond assessment contract and Resolution 44-16 at its next legislative meeting, which is scheduled for Monday, April 18, at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers.