By Alex Bridges
A divided Strasburg Town Council agreed Tuesday to look at land near Stony Pointe as the site for a new water tower.
Council voted 4-3 at its regular to approve an option agreement on 0.59 acres of property at 25 Musket Lane near Pouts Hill Road, according to Town Manager Judson Rex.
The agreement allows council and the town 180 days to further study the property and its suitability for a water tower, Rex said Wednesday. The agreement also allows time for the town to hold hearings or give the public opportunities to weigh in on the possibility of putting a tower at the site.
"[Council] felt comfortable about moving forward with the option agreement," Rex said.
Council members Sarah Mauck, Robert Baker, Scott Terndrup and Richard Redmon voted to approve the agreement. Council members Jocelyn Vena, Rich Orndorff Jr., and John "Red" Hall Jr. voted against moving forward on the agreement. Councilman Donald Le Vine left the meeting before members took up the issue.
"I would point out that council hasn't decided to go forward with a tank at this location," Rex said. "It simply was dealing with the property aspect of where we would put a tank, so we'll further discuss that."
Council members met in closed session at the end of their regular meeting to discuss the option agreement. Following the session, Mayor Timothy Taylor told people in attendance that council will consider the agreement. Residents from Stony Pointe and Crystal Hill were in the audience at the meeting. The town sent letters to residents of the neighborhoods advising them that council could take action on the issue of locating a potential site for a water tower. Taylor asked if anyone in the audience wanted to speak about the issue before council acted. Council heard from two people in the audience, Rex said.
Under the agreement, the town agrees to pay the landowner, Marie Spence, $40,000 for the property, one of two parcels she owns, according to Rex. The town would need to make a boundary line adjustment to create the 0.59-acre section for the tower, Rex explained.
The agreement also calls for the town to waive approximately $35,000 in fees for Spence to connect her remaining property to the Strasburg water and sewer lines, Rex said. The town would provide the physical connection to the utilities. The property currently uses a septic system. The closest sewer line is a few hundred feet from Spence's property and connection would require the construction, according to Rex. If the town built a tower at the Pouts Hill site a water line would be close to Spence's property, he noted.
The town last year began an investigation into using land adjacent to Crystal Hill and purchased by Strasburg as a possible site for a tower. Residents spoke out against the prospect of the town building a tower close to their neighborhood. The water system study that recommends the town build another tower also identified the area of Pouts Hill Road and Stony Pointe as a potential location for the storage tank.
"We've considered the other site [Crystal Hill], but the direction, especially after last night, is primarily looking at this Pouts Hill site for a water tower," Rex said. "During this study period that the option gives us, we plan on holding additional public meetings ... and probably another balloon test like we did before."
A tower at Musket Lane would stand approximately 95 feet - shorter than necessary for the Crystal Hill site given the higher elevation of Stony Pointe, according to Rex.
The tower would cost an estimated $1.7 million to construct, Rex said. The town may use funds left over from the construction of the water treatment plant to install lines needed to connect the tower to Strasburg's system, Rex added. Officials are in the process of securing funds for the tower construction, according to Rex.
Town officials also plan to prepare some artist renderings to illustrate what a tower would look like if constructed at the Pouts Hill site. The illustrations would help officials study the suitability of putting the tank at the offered property.
"We approached [Spence] when we were looking at sites," Rex recalled. "Her property was from an elevation standpoint very suitable for a water storage tank."
Studies and underground scans conducted of the Stony Pointe property found the site suitable to hold a 96-foot water tower, Rex said. The town had soil samples taken of the land two weeks ago as a further test of the property, according to Rex.
"Really, it's more from the standpoint of the aesthetic impact on the neighborhood and [we] wanted to further investigate that," Rex said.
Town officials expect to provide more information about the site at council's March 4 work session.
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org