A Montgomery County Circuit Court judge yesterday upheld the county's right to use the allocation of the area's limited number of sewer hookups as a tool to control growth.
The ruling by Judge Philip M. Fairbanks is considered an important victory by the county officials who advocate using the allocation of the county's distribution policy states, "to ensure balanced and orderly growth."
"To state that (Applicable state law) does not permit the county to allocate this scarce resource woul be to make the goal of orderly growth an impossibility," Fairbanks said in this ruling.
The decision also affirmed the right of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission to establish a moratorium on sewer hookups on any of the suburban Marland drainage basins under its jurisdiction.
The commission has that right, Judge Fairbainks said, even if a stateordered moratorium for the same drainage basin has been lifted.
Mjontgomery County's sewer allocation policy, in effect since last February, allots 8 per cent of the county's share of sewage treatment capacity at the Blue Plains plant to the construction of public service buildings: 25 per cent to the construction of commercial facilities; and 67 per cent to residential construction. The county curlons of unused daily treatment capacity at Blue Plains.
Within these broad categories, however, are more specific provisions that apportion sewer hookups for various kinds of residential and commercial developments.
A few weeks after the policy became effective, CI/Mitchell and Best Co., developers of the Fallsreach subdivision, filed a suit alleging that the county was setting economic priorities through its allocation of sewer hookups, and thus overreaching its mandate granted under state law.
John Ddlaney, attorney for CIMitchell and Best, said yesterday that his clients would probably appeal Judge Fairbanks' ruling.
About 100 homes in the 134acre subdivision just off the intersection of Falls Road and Tuckerman Lane have already been granted sewer hookups, according to Judge Fairbanks' decision.
"These homes have the connections and will go forward," Delaney said yesterday. He added, however, that those homes would be completed over the next two years, and "we have to know where we're going after that." Another 200 homes are planned and are awaiting sewer authorization, he said.
At the time the developers' suit was heard two months ago, the county had requests to allocate a totalof nearly 13 milllion gallons a day of sewage treatment capacity, more than twice that currently available.
Within the specific class of residential development that includes Fallsreach, under county guidelines a total of 1.37 million gallons is available; more than 7.5 million gallons of capacity had been requested.
According to a WSSC memorandum, the request for sewerage by the Fallsreach developers occupies a low spot on the long list of similar request. However, the WSSC had not yet formally denied the request.
It was not immediately clear yesterday what effect, if any, Judge Fairbanks' decision would have on the sewer allocation policy established by the Prince George's County Council, which is also being used as a tool to shape growth. That policy has not yet been challenged in court.