Developer Donald R. Reuwer Jr. says the Zoning Board made a mistake.
But about 150 people turned out to a Planning Board meeting Wednesday night to say it is Reuwer who is wrong.
The crowd opposed a 682-acre residential, commercial and golfing village Reuwer wants to build near their neighborhoods.
The proposed development, Waverly Woods II, would be located off MarriottsvilleRoad between Interstate 70 and Route 99.
The board was hearing allegations of Reuwer that the Zoning Board made a mistake in 1985 whenit zoned the property rural -- one house per 3 acres -- instead of amix of planned employment center and residential uses called for in the 1982 general plan.
Reuwer's petition also contends the character of the neighborhood has changed enough to warrant a variety of zoning uses he needs to build what could become the county's largest village outside of Columbia.
In order to win a zoning change between comprehensive rezonings, a petitioner must prove the Zoning Board made a mistake, or show that the character of the neighborhood has substantially changed.
Reuwer argues that both a mistake and a change have taken place.
The county planning department told the Planning Board it endorses Reuwer's plans and agrees that a change -- the recent availability of public water and sewer -- has occurred. The department refuted the mistake argument.
County planners disagree with Reuwer's other examples of substantial change -- the development of a planned golf course community at Turf Valley to the south and a half-acre residential development to the east.
The Planning Board, which is only advisory in this matter, will consider each of Reuwer's arguments before making a recommendation to the Zoning Board.
All butthree of the 42 residents who spoke at the three-hour hearing opposed the project. The audience applauded opponents; Reuwer applauded defenders of the project.
Opponents said it was ludicrous to think that their neighborhood had undergone substantial changes. They also doubted Reuwer's traffic studies.
Reuwer aides said traffic would not be a problem because the project would be phased in over a period of 15 to 23 years, beginning with completion of the golf course and some single-family homes in 1995 and ending with the last office buildings in 2015.
Reuwer himself did not testify, but his aides said the developer would have "no choice" but to wait until roads are adequate before beginning a new phase of the project.
Opponents were skeptical.
"This is not a case of not-in-my-backyard," said Roger D. Hall of Marriottsville, "but a case of does Howard County need it. Can it afford it? How much will it cost to make road improvements? Who will pay? What are the tax revenues? Who will pay for services? Wherewill the garbage go?" Part of the site is next to the county land-fill, which is nearing capacity.
"We're intelligent, rational people, not hysterical pull-up-the-draw-bridge fanatics," Hall said. "We challenge the Planning Board to ask hard questions and not be taken in by used-car pitches."
At least one opponent, Martin Marlarkey of Patuxent Valley Overlook, said he had no qualms whatsoever about opposing the project on the grounds of proximity.
"My major concern is traffic," he said. "People taking short cuts through our neighborhood. I feel government has to listen to current taxpayers first before listening to future taxpayers. We have a right to pull up the rug. I don't want this in my backyard."
Katy Peters-Radbell of Ellicott City opposed the project on the basis of already having to wait for nearly every county service. She said the county is too developed already, leading to "waiting lists for everything" -- schools, recreationalprograms, and library books.
"Life is made up of little things," she said, "That's what family is all about. I have to wait day in andday out in Howard County. I can't stand this growth."
Tridelphia Road resident Ernie Robson, one of three people -- all golfers -- to favor the project, told the Planning Board golf is the second-fastestgrowing sport in the world. "It is a money-making business," he said.
Reuwer plans to have the county take over the golf course and run it as a public links.
Nancy Springfield of Woodstock was not impressed. "I'm embarrassed to be a citizen of Howard County if we are so affluent that a golf course is a priority need," she said.
Springfield also didn't like Reuwer's description of neighborhood. "There are no businesses, no apartments here. It's rural, and I want it to stay rural," she said. "Since 1978, I have been coming before this group fighting development. If this was the end of it, I would say OK. But this won't be the end of it."
The Planning Board is expected totake up the Reuwer project after dealing with a proposed adequate facilities ordinance and the administration's petition to comprehensively rezone the western portion of the county. The board held hearings on those projects earlier this month.