County Looks to Move Fast on Sewer

Odenton Patch by Tim Lemke | May 17, 2011

Anne Arundel County hopes to submit an application to the Maryland Department of the Environment for a new sewer line in Odenton this week. Real estate developers have been anxiously awaiting construction of the sewer so they can build.

Plans for a sewer line to serve new development in Odenton will move forward this week, when Anne Arundel County is expected to present an application to the Maryland Department of the Environment.

The sewer line, which includes seven sections and spans about 14,000 feet, could be in place by early 2014 if things go smoothly. But the project’s complexity, coupled with concerns over right-of-way access and the impact on wetlands, make that timeline anything but certain.

The current timeline for construction calls for the county to advertise bids for construction in March of next year, with work to begin by August of 2012. Construction of the sewer line is expected to take about 18 months, according to Chris Phipps, a deputy director in the county’s Department of Public Works.

Between now and then, the county must complete a design of the sewer and gain right-of-way access from landowners, while waiting MDE to review the project to determine its impact on area wetlands.

If MDE determines that the sewer project could impact a certain percentage of wetlands, it will refer the project to the Army Corps of Engineers for review. That could create unknown delays.

“A lot of these things are out of our control,” Phipps said.

The sewer line is seen as essential to the development of projects in the Odenton Town Center. The county last year reached an agreement to build the sewer, with developers in the area paying for construction through front foot assessments.

Key projects waiting for the infrastructure improvements include a transit-oriented project near the Odenton MARC Station, and portions of Independence Park at the Odenton Town Center, near the intersection of Route 32 and Route 175.

The sewer line issue has been a main topic of discussion among members of the Odenton Town Center Plan Oversight Committee and the Odenton NOW Coalition.

“We’ve had lots of interaction with the development community,” said Robert Hannon, president and CEO of the Anne Arundel County Economic Development Corp. “It is a constant flow of communication and a good, healthy dialogue with these developers because they are anxious.”

Phipps said the county is moving as quickly as it can on the project.

“We’ve shown an aggressive schedule,” he said. “This is a schedule that we believe is reasonable. We’re doing everything we can do expedite it. It’s going to be complex because of the nature of the job.”

He said the county could save time and avoid building new trenches by using a method known as “pipe bursting,” in which existing sewer lines are essentially broken up and replaced underground.

County officials said they have already had early discussions with some landowners, and are hopeful that right of way access can be obtained quickly and without the use of eminent domain.

“We have our alignment mostly done, and early discussions are beginning to take place with property owners to figure out that right of way,” Hannon said. “Once we have that alignment set and easement and other real estate purchases for right of way, that’s what will pave the way for construction, which is pretty straightforward.”

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