Officials Debate County, Utility Easement Agreement

SALISBURY – Questions surrounding a proposed deed of easement between Wicomico County and Delmarva Power highlighted an open work session this week.

On Tuesday, Assistant Director of Administration Weston Young and Public Works Director Dallas Baker presented the Wicomico County Council with a request to review and accept a deed of easement between the county and Delmarva Power & Light Company for property located on the east side of Walston Switch Road for use as a public utility easement.

Baker said the deed will allow Delmarva Power to construct a U-shaped stone driveway and improve drainage conditions on portions of the county’s property. He said the idea is to improve access to the company’s transmission structures located near the property.

“They have existing equipment out there on Walston Switch Road between Route 50 and Old Ocean City Road,” Baker said. “What they are looking to do is expand that a little bit, so they can get their equipment in and out easier.”

Councilman Joe Holloway said the parcel referred to in the deed is located in his district. While he agreed improvements should be made for Delmarva Power to access its equipment, he questioned how the company would address the drainage issues.

“It needs to be done because that’s a heavily traveled road …,” he said. “I’m not sure exactly what they are going to do as far as drainage.”

Baker explained new drainage pipes would be installed with the new driveway.

“They will also clean up and clear out along that easement,” he said.

Council Attorney Bob Taylor said he suggested the deed of easement describe the drainage improvements.

“I think that ought to be particularized in this document, as to exactly what those drainage improvements are going to be …,” he said.

Baker, however, said plans for drainage improvements would be included elsewhere.

“Just to clarify, we do have a full set of site plans, grading plans, erosion and sediment control plans,” he said. “We just don’t typically show that level of detail on an easement document.”

Holloway highlighted drainage issues near the property. He questioned if the improvements would compound those problems.

“That’s very close to the area of Beaver Run tax ditch where we had all the problems,” he said. “Does the water drain that way, or does it drain to the other branch?”

Baker explained the improvements would not alter the drainage path, but would include a stormwater pond.

“Because they are adding what the state considers impervious area with the gravel driveway, there has to be a small stormwater pond associated with this as well,” he said.

Taylor reiterated that he would like to see drainage improvements referred to in the deed of easement.

“I think the document should limit it to that, so it’s not open-ended,” he said.

Young disagreed. He said Taylor’s proposed changes to the document would deviate from existing deeds of easement between Delmarva Power and the county.

“In a situation where they may want to add a pipe or increase the size of a pipe, that’s going to deviate from the plan,” he said. “So if you get specific – which we are not usually specific in these documents – we are going to have to come back before you so that they can improve the drainage out there.”

After further discussion, the council suggested the proposed changes to the deed be discussed with Delmarva Power.

“I would be very surprised if they had an upset stomach about this,” Taylor said.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.