County considers paying a third of Hancock water line extension to BFS complex

by Kate Shunney

Washington County Commissioners on Tuesday were set to consider signing a three-way Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Town of Hancock and Bruceton Farm Services, Inc. (BFS) to divide financial responsibility for an eight-inch water line to the new Hancock truck plaza development area.

That agreement was on the agenda for the Board of County Commissioners for July 11.

The Hancock truck plaza owned by BFS.

Acting County Administrator Michelle Gordon and County Attorney Kirk Downey were expected to recommend approval of the MOU, under which the county would pay for a third of the water line extension project.

According to county documents, the commissioners and county staff met with the Town of Hancock and BFS in 2022 to determine if county officials would agree to offer financial support for the line extension, which was presented as “an economic development and revitalization project.”

The agreement up for a vote on Tuesday would establish a “public-private partnership” among BFS, the Town of Hancock and the county to pay for the water line extension as an “economic development and revitalization project.”

The water line extension, which is almost complete, is expected to cost $417,835. Each of the parties would pay a third of the cost — $139,278 — under the Memorandum of Understanding. The proposed agreement says BFS would be responsible for any costs over the estimated $417,835 price tag.

County officials reported that “unexpected fire suppression requirements from the State Fire Marshal (SFM) necessitated the construction of an eight-inch (8”) water line to ensure adequate water supply to several business development projects underway on Main Street in Hancock, Maryland.”

“The Town requested funding from the County to support the project based on the potential benefit to Washington County that will result from increased attraction of business due to the new water line and the positive economic development consequences that will result from the establishment of the proposed businesses,” county officials noted in  their report to the commissioners.

The water line extension is almost complete, and BFS has requested reimbursement of their capital investment in the line.

Under the agreement, the Town of Hancock would own and maintain the extended water line up to any water meter. BFS is responsible for the maintenance of the line on their property between the water meter and any connection point. The county has no ownership or maintenance role under the agreement.