Trotter Hill residents divided on whether to close the road or keep it open

November 17, 1992|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Staff Writer

A headline in yesterday's Howard County edition should have identified those debating whether to close Trotter Road as River Hill residents.

5) The Baltimore Sun regrets the errors.

The County Council heard testimony last night from two groups of residents who are in conflict over whether to close Trotter Road or keep it open.

The 1990 General Plan calls for both the southern and northern portions of Trotter Road to dead end near a new Route 32.


Residents living in the Pheasant Ridge neighborhood of the Columbia village of River Hill want to amend the General Plan and link the southern portion of Trotter Road with River Hill Road by way of Sunset Drive.

The problem for Pheasant Hill residents is that if Trotter Road is closed, they will be at risk in an emergency, said David Berson, chairman of the River Hill Village Board.

"A single access route for the approximately 260 homes on the Trotter Road cul-de-sac would be totally blocked occasionally, cutting off residents completely," Mr. Berson said.

Mr. Berson was one of 126 people who attended the hearing and among 42 who signed up to testify. He said Trotter Road has been blocked three times in the past four months -- twice because of downed trees, once because of an accident. "While these blockages have occurred at times when no emergency access has been necessary, we may not be so lucky the next time," Mr. Berson said.

Although public safety was his major concern, Mr. Berson said closing the road would also be a major inconvenience. Residents will have to go more than three miles out of the way to get to the village center in Pointers Run if south Trotter Road is dead-ended, he said.

In addition, elementary school children would probably be redistricted away from Pointers Run Elementary School to Clarksville Elementary School. Such a redistricting would create a hardship, Mr. Berson said, because "current fourth-graders in Pheasant Ridge would have to attend four schools in four years -- a condition unlikely to be conducive to good learning."

For Nancy Parlette and residents in 65 other homes along Trotter Road, the issue is whether the county will keep its word. "We were told we would be cul-de-saced," she said. "How are we to ever believe . . . anything we are told" if the road is opened? she asked.

The County Council approved the closing of Trotter Road in 1990 and the Planning Board reaffirmed that decision by a 4-1 vote last week.

Council Chairman Paul R. Farragut, a 4th District Democrat, said the situation has changed enough in the past two years to make it necessary to open south Trotter Road until another connector can be built. Directors of the Department of Planning and Zoning and the Department of Public Works supported Mr. Farragut's proposal.

Mr. Farragut said the proposed new route is circuitous enough and the 30-mph speed limit slow enough to keep traffic from using the connection as a short cut.

Ms. Parlette was unimpressed. She said the issue for those who want to keep Trotter Road open is not safety, but convenience.

"I wonder how strong they would continue to support Mr. Farragut's proposal if suddenly the traffic were to be re-routed past their houses . . . and they were required to actually share some of the burden with the rest of Trotter Road," she said. "A Planning Board member asked their representative if having an emergency access only would be a reasonable idea, but that was unacceptable to him."

Safety is also a concern to Trotter Road residents who want to keep the road closed, Ms. Parlette said. "We believe that using a narrow neighborhood road . . . is too dangerous to the residents."

Instead of amending the General Plan, the council should pressure the governor to proceed with the new Route 32, she said. "Trotter residents have development behind, across and beside them. Please help us preserve the one thing we have left -- Trotter Road itself," she said.

The council will vote on the issue Dec. 7.

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