Route 100 proposal comes under fire Some residents allege parkland is endangered

September 16, 1992|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Staff Writer

If Route 100 is built where the State Highway Administration wants it in southern Ellicott City, the road will destroy county parkland, according to nearby residents who want the County Council to adopt a resolution seeking federal protection of property along Deep Run.

Also, residents Hunt Country Estates charged that the SHA has presented residents and county officials with erroneous comparisons of how much damage seven different Route 100 alternatives would cause.

The SHA used those comparisons to label as "not preferred" an alternative favored by Hunt Country Estates residents.

"Are you getting straight talk from state highway? Because I don't feel I am," said Tom O'Brien, whose home is close to one of SHA's preferred alternatives.

The SHA is expected to hold hearings in December on alternatives to the Route 100 alignment that federal regulators rejected because of the amount of damage it would do to the wetlands of the Deep Run stream.

A year ago, SHA officials told Hunt Country Estates residents that federal wetlands protection would force them to move the 1987 alignment 150 feet north. The move would demolish two homes and severely affect six others, which the state offered to buy.

Mark Crampton, project engineer for Route 100 in Howard County, denied that SHA's numbers were skewed to favor a particular alternative.

"We're going to go back to re-check all the numbers. There is no preconceived plan," he said.

"We're trying to be as open about the whole process as possible; obviously we are not going to go out and publish false information," Mr. Crampton said.

Council members said they would consider seeking federal help and ask state highway officials about the neighborhood's charges during a long-term transportation briefing set for Oct. 1.

Neighborhood resident Charlie Lease presented lawmakers with documents he said presented a contradictory picture of whether land along Deep Run was eligible for federal protection as parkland.

One letter, from Public Works Director James Irvin, indicates that some open space parcels along Deep Run are county-owned open space cared for by the Recreation and Parks Department. The other, from Recreation and Parks Director Jeffrey Bourne, tells the SHA that the land is not eligible for federal parkland protection.

But Mr. Bourne said the two documents are not contradictory.

The land is parkland, he said, but that does not automatically make it eligible for protection under federal law. The land near Hunt Country Estates did not, he said, meet the specific requirements of that protection.

"That doesn't mean that the property is any less a part of our park and open space system," Mr. Bourne added. "It simply means it doesn't meet this specific criteria."

Mr. Gray said that he supported the "general thrust" of the resolution proposed by the neighborhood, but he wanted to make sure that it would not jeopardize Route 100's chances of being built. The road has been on and off county plans for more than three decades.

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