WESTMINSTER - Wakefield Valley-area residents succeeded in convincing the City Council to defeat a plan for a shopping center on Route 31, but say they know their work isn't finished.
"It's not the end of it," said Frederick G. Kestler, an Avondale Run resident who helped organize opposition to the project. "The property still stays commercial."
The City Council voted unanimously Monday night not to allow a Howard County developer to build a 128,000-square-foot shopping center on 20 acres at Route 31 and Fenby Farm Road.
Residents of three subdivisions near the site came out in force two weeks ago to protest at a public hearing. They said The Pavilions project was too large and would increase traffic and crime in their neighborhoods.
City Council members agreed.
Councilman William F. Haifley said, "The proposed plan has too many minuses to be passed at this point."
Council members suggested that the developer scale down the project to a 60,000-square-foot center.
The developer, Robert A. Fox of The Benchmark Group Co., said Tuesday he didn't know yet if he would revise his plans, but said, "60,000 square feet would be absolutely the wrong thing to do."
A smaller center would not allow for a good "merchandising mix," he said.
Fox said he did not know the council was voting on his project Monday and so did not attend the meeting.
The developer said complaints from residents about increased traffic were not a valid reason to veto the project.
"They always make that complaint," he said.
Fox worked with the city planning staff for nine months to revise plans for the center. The City Planning and Zoning Commission approved a concept plan for The Pavilions on Aug. 9.
His plans for architecture and landscaping at the center would not be cost efficient for a smaller center, he said.
"Even if the land was given to me, I don't know if I would scale it down," said Fox, who does not own the land.
Councilman Samuel V. Greenholtz said if the center were built the city would have to hire three additional police officers to patrol the area.
Kestler said residents have formed a group called POW, which stands for the Preservation of Wakefield Valley, to keep themselves informed about projects proposed for the area.