WESTMINSTER - City Council members are expected Monday to vote down a controversial proposal by a Howard County developer to build a shopping center at Route 31 and Fenby Farm Road.
Councilman Mark S. Snyder said, "I don't think it will be approved. People don't want it. They come and tell us, and we act accordingly. The process works."
Two weeks ago, almost 200 unhappy citizens crowded a public hearing to express their opposition to a 40-store shopping center near three residential neighborhoods.
Councilmen Samuel V. Greenholtz and Edward S. Calwell said they oppose the center because it's too large for the area.
Mayor W. Benjamin Brown, who does not have a vote, also said he opposes the plan. A smaller center to serve the needs of neighborhood residents should be built, he said.
Council President Kenneth J. Hornberger would not say how he would vote Monday. Councilman William F. Haifley could not be reached for comment.
Robert A. Fox of Ellicott City has proposed to build The Pavilions, a 128,000-square-foot shopping center, on the 20-acre site.
The land is the only property zoned for commercial use between Westminster and New Windsor.
Residents of the Wakefield Valley area said at the Sept. 10 hearing that they oppose the center because it would bring more traffic and damage the area's aesthetics.
They threatened a boycott of the stores if the center is built and vowed to vote the City Council out of office if members approve the project.
Residents expressed concern about truck traffic on residential streets. Plans for the center show access from Fenby Farm Road and Crossbridge Drive, not Route 31.
Gene Straub of the State Highway Administration said the state controls access to Route 31 and allows only publicly maintained roads at certain intervals. If too many access roads are built, the highway would be more dangerous, he said.
Exceptions are granted, but only if the parties can prove other means of access would not be safe or viable, he said.
Some residents said they would not oppose a smaller shopping center with a convenience store and a few other shops.
The city Planning and Zoning Commission approved a concept plan for The Pavilions on Aug. 9.
Fox could not be reached for comment, but his attorney, Charles M.
Preston of Westminster, said he did not know if the developer would propose an alternative if the plan is turned down by the City Council.
Fox worked with city planning officials for about nine months to revise and tailor the plan to what the city wanted, Preston said.
As a result of opposition to the shopping center, neighbors are forming a committee to keep themselves informed about other proposed developments in the Wakefield Valley area.
Frederick G. Kestler, an Avondale Run resident, said the group will be a "fact-finding" one and isn't meant to replace community associations.
The group, with members from the Wakefield Valley, Furnace Hills and Avondale Run developments, plans to publish a newsletter, he said.
Some residents from The Greens of Westminster and Uniontown Road also have expressed interest in joining, he said.