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New water tank in New Baltimore gets planners’ backing

Tuesday, Mar. 3 | By James Ivancic
A proposal to build a 750,000 gallon water storage tank and pumping station adjacent to an existing tank in the Baldwin Ridge area of New Baltimore was supported by the Fauquier County Planning Commission in a split 3 to 2 vote on Feb. 19.

The vote followed a public hearing that drew several residential neighbors who weren't opposed to the project designed to improve service but concerns were expressed about having another 60-ft. tall tank within sight, the color of the tank and security.

Commission members Bob Lee, Dell Ennis, and John Meadows voted to recommend to the Board of Supervisors that it approve the request from the Fauquier County Water and Sanitation Authority for a special exception to construct the tank and pumping station. The supervisors will hold their own public hearing on March 12 and subsequently vote on the project.

Chairperson Ken Alm and Vice Chairperson Adrienne Garreau vote against the recommendation of approval. Garreau said during an afternoon work session discussion about the request that “people need to understand what it's about.” Lee, who ultimately supported the recommendation, said he had a better understanding of the project's need after the work session discussion with County Department of Community Development staff.

“I thought it would have been better if we waited another month,” Alm said the day after the vote. “A lot of people in the neighborhood didn't get the information or didn't read it. I just felt the WSA didn't do as good a job in going out to the community and answering questions. I'd rather do it right.”

Ennis said, “It was an easy vote for me. It will bring new technology online.” He noted that the current tank was installed in 1986 and has reduced capacity because of the buildup of sediment. To take it offline to clean it would mean that tanker trucks would have to supply the users with water while the work was underway. It will be cleaned once the new tank is erected. Both tanks will have glass linings to protect them from rust.

Nearby schools, as well as residents, some of whom have individual pumps to get water into their homes, depend on the Baldwin Ridge storage tank and pump station, Ennis noted. Firefighters also need a reliable water source. The improvement will also provide for future growth.

The new tank and pump station should be in place and operational in 2016 if all goes well, according to Mary Sherrill, director of engineering for the WSA. Approvals are needed on the state and county levels.

The preliminary engineering estimate of the project's cost puts it at $2 million. Glass lining both tanks will add to their life spans. Cleaning the existing tank will take six to eight weeks and will be done when the new tank can serve the community, Sherrill said.

In other business before the planning commission, the members unanimously approved a recommendation of approval of a special exception request from Community Touch Inc. for the continued operation of two transitional housing units and a special permit for a child care facility for up to 25 children from infancy to pre-teens. The property is on Jericho Road in Bealeton. Community Touch assists the homeless and hungry. It operates a food pantry and thrift store.

The planning commission also unanimously also endorsed an application to rezone 4.23 acres from rural agriculture and village to commercial village to allow for continued commercial use within the Upperville Business Park on the south side of U.S. 50, the John S. Mosby Highway.

The Board of Supervisors will also hold public hearings on the Community Touch and Upperville applications on March 12.

The commission also heard a presentation from Kimberley Fogle, director of the Fauquier County Department of Community Development, on transportation improvement proposals for New Baltimore that were the subject of a public information session.

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