Is High Ridge Drive in Finksburg an eternal dead-end street or a temporary cul-de-sac that was earmarked for extension all along?
Depends whom you ask.
The fate of the road, which has been the subject of a long-standing dispute between residents of the High Ridge subdivision and an adjacent property owner, was under consideration by the county Planning and Zoning Commission last week.
Aaron Green wants to develop 14 lots on a portion of his 135-acre farm off Bird View Road.
To do that, however, Green needs High Ridge road extended across a 15-by-50-foot right of way owned by the homeowners association of High Ridge, an adjacent 80-home subdivision.
The residents oppose the plans forthe development, saying the road never was meant to be extended. They fear extending the road into a new subdivision would increase traffic and detract from the quality of life in High Ridge.
"When we bought our homes, we expected a dead-end street," John Cash, a representative of the High Ridge Community Association, told the commission.
The association has refused Green's offers to buy the right of way.
"We will not sell him the property," Cash said Tuesday.
So Green went to the county commissioners in May to ask them to condemn the strip so the county could take it over and development plans could proceed.
County planners told the planning commission on Tuesday that a mistake had been made on original plans for High Ridge, resulting in the strip. Planners said the land for High Ridge originally should have been "dedicated" right up to the edge of Green's property.
Green told the county commissioners that the mistake justified condemnation of the land.
However, the commissioners sent the matter to the planning commission for review, asking for its opinion on whether a mistake was made. The commissioners also sought a recommendationon the feasibility of the proposed development.
The planning commission's review culminated Tuesday in a unanimous vote to approve theconcept plan for Green's proposed development.
The plans call for14 large-lot, single-family homes in a cluster-type arrangement on parcels ranging from one to six acres.
The land is zoned for agriculture, which requires a minimum lot size of one acre.
"It's an unusual situation," said John T. Maguire II, a Westminster attorney representing Green. "I guess it sounds ridiculous that we'd have this debate over it."
If the commissioners approve Green's request, the condemnation proceedings would begin in Circuit Court.
The association would be paid fair market value for the land, if it were condemned.
If the residents believed they were not being paid a fair price,they could appeal and request a jury trial.