Ocean City Today

Fire protection squared away for expanded Riddle Farm

By Brian Gilliland | Aug 24, 2017

(Aug. 25, 2017) As the public/private partnership to bring additional water and sewer service to the Riddle Farm area near the Berlin Wal-Mart and other retail businesses prepares to deliver additional capacity, the matter of providing water for fire protection systems for the existing businesses needed to be addressed by the county commissioners on Aug. 15.

To simplify the process for determining how much the existing businesses would pay, because they would not technically be county water customers, the county’s finance department recommended a flat charge of $1,854 per equivalent dwelling unit assigned to the McDonald’s and the occupants of Building F in the service area.

“The Riddle Farm Service Area has the needed water storage capacity to provide fire protection service and though the recently completed construction project installed adequately sized pipelines are now extended to this area,” John Tustin, director of public works, wrote in a memo to County Administrator Harold Higgins.

Tustin wrote it cost the service area in excess of $600,000 to extend those water lines.

Reviewing the issue with the county water/wastewater committee, Tustin recommended an equity contribution, or a one-time payment, from the entities requesting the service be charged.

“Because the operating cost associated with fire protection in minimal, the use of a equity contribution … would seem appropriate,” Tustin wrote.

Steps would be taken during the connection phase to ensure the water service is used exclusively to supply fire protection measures and not regular water service, he wrote.

The assessed charges would cover about a third of the cost to full customers.

Maintenance costs for the fire protection capacity are not included, Commissioner Ted Elder noted, and Tustin explained that sales of additional EDUs would handle the ongoing upkeep.

Attorney Mark Cropper, representing BLS Realty LLC, the private side of the partnership with the county, said the expansion of the service area was pretty much complete on his end, and he was beginning to develop purchase agreements for the EDUs the additional capacity would provide.

Tustin said the project was wrapping up on the public side of the partnership as well, and that he expects the capacity to be available by mid-September.

The commissioners endorsed the payment plan as presented by Tustin.

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