Common Council News: Recycling Water, Main St. Revitalization
The Westminster Common Council expects that its use of recycled water will make it a leader in the state.
Here's five important things to know about Monday night's Westminster Common Council meeting. The regularly scheduled meeting took place at the John Street Quarters community center to accommodate a larger crowd for the Fallfest award presentation.
Westminster Remains at Forefront of Water Conservation and Sustainability
Council members agreed to pass ordinance no. 831, allowing the city to utilize treated wastewater for economic development purposes.
Treated wastewater is not potable water. The "reclaimed" water is used for irrigation, fire protection and non-contact cooling among other things. Public Utilities Director Jeffrey Glass said that the idea came about as the city worked to help a local business expand.
"This provides the opportunity for expansion of others businesses and the economic benefits of that," Glass said. "This will help us stretch our existing water reserves."
According to Glass, not only does recycling water offer solutions for economic development in the city, it will also provide a revenue stream.
Council Member Dr. Robert Wack said "this is so big that I think it's almost revolutionary."
Wack said the idea is brilliant and will keep Westminster at the forefront of water conservation and sustainability.
Glass said few, if any, other cities are utilizing treated wastewater in the state, although he said it is being used successfully in states like California and Arizona.
Water has proven to be an obstacle in development for the both the city and county. Council members are optimistic that this could potentially help deal with water scarcity issue.
Council President Damian Halstad said, "Water is probably the single biggest impediment to our growth."
According to Glass, the city will meter the treated wastewater and charge for it accordingly, just as they would for drinking water. The work associated with the project will be funded by the developer, at a cost of approximately $200,000.
"This business will be the first user in the pipeline but then we can set the stage for branching out," Glass said. "This is our future, this is where we’re going to grow. This will make us a leader in the state."
Councilman Dennis Frazier pointed out that this process is only being discussed for business use at this point.
Main Street Revitalization Planning
Mayor Utz reported that he is collaborating with local business owners in an effort to continue promoting the downtown area.
Some of the ideas that the group has asked the city to explore include creating a loitering law, working to open the Westminster branch of the library on Sundays, offering revolving loans for businesses on Main Street and planning monthly downtown events.
The Council approved the plan of action.
Fire Department Report
In his report to the council, Westminster Volunteer Fire Department President Bob Cumberland asked the Board to consider writing a letter to the Carroll County Commissioners urging them to continue supporting the residential fire sprinkler ordinance in Carroll County.
According to Cumberland, the county adopted an ordinance requiring residential sprinklers in single family homes in 2006. He said that the commissioners will be discussing the ordinance later this week.
Cumberland said that on average, it costs about $1.10 per squre foot to install the sprinkler system in a newly constructed home.
The council agreed that the Mayor would send a letter to the commissioners.
Mayor Kevin Utz and the FallFest Board President presented this year's Fallfest charities with checks in the amount of $8,750. The four charities awarded this year were Carroll Hospice, Access Carroll, The Boys and Girls Club of Westminsterand Carroll County Youth Service Bureau.
Lori Graham, volunteer and owner of Dutterer's Flowers, presented the annual holiday parade awards:
- Best animal: Mason Dixon Bernese Mountain Dogs
- Best walking group: The Cow
- Best nonprofit entry: Megan Taylor Float “Beautiful Butterfly”
- Best business float: Carroll County Veterinary Clinic (Gingerbread Dog House)
- Best vehicle entry: Mid Atlantic Mini Cycle Riders
- Best overall entry: Ravens Roost
Mayor's Cup Award
Mayor Utz presented his annual award for the best holiday window display downtown. He said 18 businesses competed and the winner was Sturgill and Associates, an accounting firm located at 20 Liberty St.
The next regularly scheduled Common Council meeting, on Dec. 26, has been canceled.