Avalon, a proposed 855-house development designed to straddle Reisterstown Road just north of the Beltway, has received preliminary approval from Baltimore County.
The new development is to occupy 148 acres -- one of the largest remaining tracts of vacant land so close to Interstate 695 -- in an area becoming filled with expensive luxury housing and commercial projects.
Avalon also is projected as generating an estimated 5,900 car trips a day when finished, pushing congestion on Reisterstown PTC Road back toward the high levels endured before the Northwest Expressway (Interstate 795) opened in late 1985.
Avalon could be delayed indefinitely, however, should traffic worsen at the intersection of I-695 and Reisterstown Road. That intersection already is rated by the county as a "D" on a traffic congestion scale of A to F. Should the rating fall to an F, county law would require a halt to development until improvements were shown.
Traffic congestion is measured every fall. A failing intersection is one in which a car must always wait through more than one cycle of the traffic light in order to proceed.
The developers hope preliminary plans for a new highway interchange at I-795 and McDonogh Road, next to their land, will come to fruition by the year 2000 and help keep traffic off Reisterstown Road.
Even with the approval yesterday by the County Review Group, which checks to see that all new projects meet the county's technical standards, developer John Colvin's Questar Properties will need about a year to obtain the first building permits.
Avalon's plans call for 214 townhouses; 592 condominiums, most with garages; and 49 single-family houses. Most of the units --
445 -- are planned east of Reisterstown Road, with the other 410 on the west side.
Avalon is designed to have its own recreation center, swimming pools and walking paths on 40 acres of open space, but no grocery store or neighborhood shopping center.
Alto Dale, a historic mansion and barns dating from 1869, is to be left intact on 90 acres east of the project, along with the 1862 Stone Chapel United Methodist Church nearby. Alto Dale once belonged to Dr. John Goucher, founder of Goucher College.
The problems associated with building such a large development in an already congested area were illustrated by the issues discussed at the review group meeting yesterday.
Avalon is to have two large entrances, one on each side of Reisterstown Road just north of Mount Wilson Lane near two projects now under construction -- the 240-unit Grey Rock development and the 118-unit Cobblestone project.
Owners of the Valley Village shopping center on the northern edge of Avalon at Cradock Lane are worried that such roadway changes would make it more difficult for patrons to get to and from their stores, especially if they have to turn across Reisterstown Road traffic.
In addition, owners of the 106-new Craddock Estates homes just east of Avalon are worried about storm water runoff and saving trees for buffers.