Bloomfield neighbors deplore vibration, dirt from truck yard just across city line

November 15, 1990|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Baltimore County Bureau of The Sun

William Coleman says he's had the carpet he bought four months ago cleaned three times because of the clay that has washed into his front yard.

Mardella Brown, an 87-year-old great-grandmother, says sand seeps into the basement of her red-clapboard home every time it rains.

Jane Wade, a retired teacher, says trucks rolling by her house shake the street so violently that she fears they are going to pTC crack the foundation of her home.

All three residents of the 1700 block of Rittenhouse Avenue in the southwestern Baltimore County community of Bloomfield say their complaints are inspired by the same thing -- a truck storage yard at the end of their street.

The land was purchased last winter by the W. W. Bobcat Co. and has been used ever since as a storage area for the company's dump trucks, tractors and heavy equipment used to construct roads and do excavation work.

Adding to the problem is that the yard is in an industrial area of Baltimore just across the county line from the community of 40- to 60-year-old homes.

"What you've got is a very, very old residential community that was developed before the concept of zoning, and it's right up against some heavy industry," said County Councilman Ronald B. Hickernell, D-1st, whose district includes the community. "The jurisdictional border is the root of the problems."

Mr. Hickernell agreed to sponsor legislation that would ban truck traffic from Rittenhouse Avenue. The bill is expected to be voted on by the County Council at its work session Monday.

But a spokeswoman for the W. W. Bobcat Co. said the trucks need access to the industrially zoned tract. "We feel like we're being harassed," said Karen Herr, speaking for the company's owner, Walter E. Whistleman.

Mr. Hickernell said trucks could get to the site another way if the company puts in a short driveway that will connect the tract to an industrial park on the side of the storage yard away from the neighborhood.

"If there were no alternate access then we could have problems, but since there is an alternate access possible, this bill is enforceable," said Mr. Hickernell.

Residents say the measure is needed to bring peace to their neighborhood.

"This is a quiet, close-knit community. Everybody looks out for everybody else," said Mrs. Wade, a former teacher at nearby Lansdowne Middle School.

Mrs. Wade said that the trucks "roar" by her house at all hours and that the traffic along with the storm water runoff have hurt a neighborhood where there is a healthy mix of older residents and young families.

"These streets are just too small for that kind of traffic," said Mrs. Wade, whose backyard garage is bisected by the city-county boundary.

Mr. Coleman added that he worries about the safety of his 6-year-old daughter because of the size and speed of the trucks, which he says crowd the 14-foot-wide street.

"We have to contain all the neighborhood kids," said Mr. Coleman, 43. "They have to be watched every minute."

But Ms. Herr said the company bought the tract specifically because it was zoned for light industry uses, including truck storage. She said only a few trucks are parked there each night and that they travel along the street usually about once each day.

Baltimore City Councilman Edward L. Reisinger III, D-6th, said that he's sympathetic with the community's concerns, but that as long as Mr. Whistleman meets the city codes there is little that the city can do to help.

He added that he feels the county shouldn't be able to prohibit Mr. Whistleman from having access to his property.

"I don't know what the answer is," said Mr. Reisinger. "At this point, I think everyone is just grasping for straws."

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