February 3rd, 2009 / Categories: Brunswick
Rosemont residents file lawsuit
Originally published February 03, 2009
By Karen Gardner
The owners of four Rosemont properties filed suit against the city of Brunswick on Monday, citing Brunswick’s intention to shut off public water service to Rosemont water customers in June.
The lawsuit, filed in Frederick County Circuit Court, asks the court to invalidate Brunswick’s ordinance ending water service to Rosemont customers June 2. The lawsuit also asks that Brunswick pay the cost of court proceedings.
The property owners and plaintiffs are Thomas B. Watson, chairman of a Rosemont committee to study the issue and a member of the Rosemont Town Council, and his wife, Charlotte A Watson; Mary Slagle and Mahlon H. Slagle Jr.; Raleigh S. Boaze Jr. and Janet A. Boaze; and Glenn R. Moler and Jacklin L. Moler. All live within the limits of the village of Rosemont, which has about 275 residents.
Rosemont was incorporated in 1954. Water lines were installed in the area around 1940. Brunswick provides public water service not only to residents within the city limits, but to residents of Knoxville, Rosemont, other unincorporated areas of Frederick County, a small portion of southern Washington County and a few property owners across the Potomac River in Loudoun County, Va. The water comes from the Potomac River and nearby springs.
At a town meeting last week, Rosemont residents were concerned that losing water service could become a public health issue and lower the value of the 79 Rosemont properties served by Brunswick water lines.
According to the lawsuit, in the 1930s or 1940s, Brunswick submitted a request to the federal Works Progress Administration asking for funds to pay for the extension and/or improvements to its water supply and distribution system. As part of the project, Brunswick extended its water supply and distribution lines to various properties outside its corporate limits. Brunswick has continuously provided water service and maintenance of the lines and infrastructure since at least the late 1940s, the suit states.
Property owners outside of Brunswick pay higher rates than those in Brunswick.
The Brunswick ordinance, passed unanimously by the City Council in December, says nothing about shutting off water service to other users of the Brunswick water system outside the city limits.
According to the lawsuit, Brunswick has acted in the capacity of a public utility by providing water service to the plaintiffs, and is required to continue such service. Before altering the water lines to cut off service to Rosemont, the lawsuit states that Brunswick would need a permit from the Maryland Department of the Environment. The lawsuit also states that Brunswick has no such permit.
Rosemont Burgess Jackie Ebersole has said Rosemont cannot act on behalf of its citizens, because the town itself is not a Brunswick water customer.
She has also said Rosemont does not have the funding to take over the water lines, although the town is willing to work with Brunswick to come up with funds to maintain the lateral connections from the main water line to Rosemont properties.
“Brunswick has left us no choice,” Watson said. “They have maintained their same position. They will not negotiate unless someone takes full ownership of the lines.”
Brunswick officials have maintained that they must do what is best for the citizens of Brunswick.