Residents Balk At Proposal To Realign Rogers Avenue

February 23, 1992|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Staff writer

Disgruntled Ellicott City residents want to quash a proposal to move5,000 feet of Rogers Avenue westward.

Although the $4.3 million project to study and realign Rogers Avenue between U.S. 40 and Interstate 70 is still two years away, the Planning and Zoning Department included it among this year's capital budget requests. No money is requested until fiscal 1995.

The fact that the project appears in the capital budget at all isanathema to nearby residents who attended the Planning Board public hearing Tuesday.

Frank Rura scoffed at a financial impact statement indicating that maintenance would cost $200 a year once the new road is completed. "I don't think I can maintain my own yard for $200 a year," he said.

"What is to be gained by this project?" he asked the planning board. "It links two bottlenecks with no appreciable benefit."

Attorney David A. Carney, who is representing owners of the Normandy Shopping Center, agreed. "There has been no opportunity to give this project serious review," he said. "It should not have been included in the 1990 general plan and certainly not have shown up two years later in the 1995, 1996 and 1997 budget proposals."

County Planning Director Joseph W. Rutter Jr. said the project has been on every general plan since 1971 and that the county obtained rights of way for the realignment in the 1960s and 1970s. Those rights of way arein environmentally sensitive areas, however, and new environmental standards could make the project unbuildable.

"At the very least, we need to go ahead with the ($300,000) study portion of the project,"Rutter said. "If we need to adapt the land use, we need to do it with the facts, not after the facts."

The area is under heavy development pressure. A residential zoning proposal, if approved, would double the number of apartments there; a commercial proposal, if approved, would add a department store and members-only wholesale buying club.

Shirley Bossom, president of the board of directors of Good Shepherd cemetery, objected to the road relocation on the grounds that itwould isolate the cemetery and leave it vulnerable to vandalism.

"This is a very real emotional problem," she said. "It makes no difference whether a burial was eight days ago or 80 years ago. Families don't want graves desecrated in any way."

Part of the standing-room-only crowd came to the hearing to endorse capital project requests.

* A large contingent from Beth Shalom synagogue urged support of apublic works project that would allow the congregation to get a water and sewer connection two years early. If the connection is not madesoon, the congregation said, it will lose its special exception to build a house of worship and religious school on Guilford Road.

* Several people testified in favor of a $25,000 study aimed at acquiring the Ellicott City train station. Ronald Hogg, vice president of theEllicott City Business Association, said the county would be better off if the money requested for the study were applied to the purchaseof the train station.

The planning board makes recommendations only. It will be up to County Executive Charles I. Ecker and the CountyCouncil to decide what projects are included in the capital budget. The planning board's function is to review each request and have a public hearing to ensure that proposed projects conform to general plan.

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