Opponents who have publicly vented anger over a 682-acre residential, commercial and golfing village proposed in Marriottsville took a more sober tack before the county zoning board last week.
This time they turned to the law.
Waverly Woods II developer, Donald Reuwer, and the property's owners are asking that the land's rural zoning be changed to a mix of commercial and higher-density residential zoning.
To qualify for rezoning, it must be shown that the character of the neighborhood around the planned Waverly Woods II has changed substantially, or that the current zoning was a mistake.
Part of the debate Wednesday night focused on the "neighborhood" that Reuwer and others are highlighting to show how the area has changed.
Three examples of nearby sites that were rezoned are all more than three miles from the proposed development. That is too far to be called "in the neighborhood," opponents said.
Jan Miller, a federal prosecutor who lives near the proposed development, cited an Appeals Court ruling that determined that properties two or more miles from a site to be rezoned could not be considered part of the neighborhood.
Another court ruling said that one or 1 1/2 miles was too far, he said.
Roger Hall, a Marriottsville resident, also questioned the neighborhood's definition.
"The petitioner has cited several new communities and commercial buildings along Route 40 as substantial changes to the neighborhood," he said, and all of them are farther than 1 1/2 miles from the Waverly property.
Asked by the developer's attorney, Leonard Goldstein, what size lot he would allow on the property, Mr. Hall said an acceptable solution could be worked out between the developer and residents.
"Somewhere in there there's got to be a happy medium, but it'snot putting in 1,000 [residential] units and 1.7 million square feet of office space and a shopping center. That's not the answer," Mr. Hall said.
He added that he is not opposed to town houses in general.
"I've lived in town homes, I've lived in apartment buildings. And in Columbia, where I lived in them, it fit in very well," Mr. Hallsaid. "This is not an apartment or town home community. It's one of single-family homes."
Mr. Hall's neighbor, Tim McVey, described himself as a common-sense traffic expert.
Using the State Highway Administration's designations of traffic congestion, he asked board members whether they were satisfied with the flow of traffic.
"In my neighborhood, it's pretty bad now," he said.
And if it's bad now, it will be much worse after the project adds19,000 to 24,000 car trips per day to the area, he added.
He also said that studies don't show the human cost of heavy traffic, which has caused frequent accidents at Marriottsville Road and Route 99.
County plans to make road improvements will take a toll, too, Mr. McVey said.
The hearing will continue at 8 p.m. Wednesday in the Banneker Room of the George Howard county office building. Testimony will be televised on Cable 15.