Eight Ellicott City families have been told by state officials that they may have to give up their homes to protect the homes of birds, squirrels and tadpoles.
The Hunt Country Estates residents are not doing anything to harm the environment, but federal regulators say the state will if it proceeds with current plans for building Route 100.
"Protecting the environment is important, and everybody says protecting the environment is OK if it doesn't affect me. This time it affects me," Jeff Wellen said.
His house is one of the two that would be demolished if the planned Route 100 is moved 150 feet north to save about 2 1/2 acres of wetlands around Deep Run Creek. The state has offered to buy the two homes and six others that would end up rightnext to the four-lane highway.
That 150-foot shift puts Wellen and his neighbors on Fetlock Court off of Old Montgomery Road right back where they started five years ago, when the county revived plans for Route 100.
Because of planning map omissions, highway planners did not know Hunt Country Estates was in the path of Route 100, but after residents, the County Council and the legislative delegation objected in May 1987, the route was shifted 150 feet away from the single-family homes.
On Monday, residents of the community met with State Highway Administration officials, who told them that federal wetlands regulations enacted after the current alignment was set may force them to move the highway again.
The problem is that the current alignment would require part of the Deep Run stream to be re-routed andrun alongside the highway, which would harm the wetland habitat.
While the Army Corps of Engineers grants other road projects and developments permits to disturb wetlands, Deep Run's are among the most vital type of wetlands, making them too valuable to be destroyed, corps spokesman Doug Garman said.
State Delegate Martin G. Madden, D-13B, who set up Monday's meeting a week after the six homeowners were notified of the highway shift, said he thinks saving 2 1/2 acres of wetlands with no endangered species is not worth moving people out of their homes.
"Federal regulators should come out here and see the impact in human terms," he said.
"I think everybody could be served if we could just keep the present alignment. A great uncertainty isbeing forced on them," Madden said of the residents whose homes would be razed.
Part of the reason Deep Run is so critical is that it feeds swampland in the Dorsey area -- where Deep Run is crossed by Route 100 a second time.
"You don't want to do anything to that stream that's going to impact the wetlands that are true swamps downstream," said Tom Filip, assistant chief of the regulatory branch of Army Corps of Engineers Baltimore Office.
The corps is close to approving the bridging of those swamps in
the Dorsey area of Anne ArundelCounty, which Filip said could be acceptably done over the stream near Hunt Country Estates.
One possible solution state highway planners will study is moving the road far enough south to avoid disturbing Deep Run Creek, but that will mean coming close to even more homes in the Village of Montgomery Run condominiums, said Mark Crampton, project engineer for design of Route 100.
Just how great that impactwould be is unknown, he said.
Crampton pointed out that a consultant's report that recommended the 150-foot shift into Hunt Country Estates was a first draft, "and the parameters set were, 'See what you could do to minimize the acreage of wetlands.' "
The consultant, Timonium-based Greiner Inc., was not instructed to avoid homes, he said.
Had the conflict over wetlands come up five years ago, Montgomery Run would not have been an issue. It had not been built.
Developer Macks & Macks Inc. obtained an agreement to keep the road from bisecting its property in exchange for another parcel of the developer's land.
Asked about the possibility of the road being moved farther south, Macks & Macks vice president Lawrence Macks said, "I think it would be terrible, but I find it impossible to believe that it would actually happen."
"The state has a written agreement with Montgomery Run as to where the right of way would be, and for all intents and purposes Montgomery Run is built out."