Battle over road between Gray Rock Farm and Dorsey Hall nears its end

December 04, 1992|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Staff Writer

Time is running out for residents of Gray Rock Farm and Dorsey Hall in their fight to keep their communities separate.

Engineers for developer Miller Land Co. of Ellicott City said they expected to submit drawings to county planners showing the final 1,100 feet of Gray Rock Drive connecting the Gray Rock subdivision with Dorsey Hall, a neighborhood in Columbia's Dorsey's Search village.

The northern section of the road serves Gray Rock Farm and empties onto Frederick Road in Ellicott City. The southern section serves Dorsey Hall and empties onto Columbia Road.

The step is the last before lots for the final section of Gray Rock Farm are recorded, probably sometime in February. Once the lots are recorded, the developer will be required to build the connection within three years.

Despite an apparent end to years of battling the connection, Irwin Hosea, president of the Gray Rock Drive Committee, believes the road can be stopped.

"I'm optimistic because every time we've done something and made some noise, we've been able to delay the thing," he said.

The group has spent more than four years and most of its $45,000 budget fighting the connection. The residents say it will bring high-speed traffic to their two neighborhoods.

Opponents say some of their neighbors bought homes before the connection was placed on the county's 1982 General Plan. Paul Miller, president of the development company, said the connection was on his 1978 sketch plan for the development.

This time, the community is alleging that the county is railroading Miller's plans to prevent him from having to resubmit them under this year's adequate public facilities law.

The project is grandfathered from the law's costly requirements to prevent school overcrowding and excessive traffic congestion, but it would lose that exemption if it misses today's deadline for road drawings.

"We're concerned the county is fast-tracking this plan," Mr. Hosea said, citing the community's review of 100 other such plans they say were handled differently.

County officials, including County Executive Charles I. Ecker, deny that the plans have been treated differently than other such plans.

The committee's chief complaint is that the Department of Public Works and the Soil Conservation District requested that plans be entirely resubmitted because of technical deficiencies.

Resubmitting the plans would have caused the developer to miss today's deadline. Instead, the Department of Planning and Zoning asked the developer to work with the two agencies to correct the plans.

Committee members say this was not done in any of the 100 other plans it reviewed.

Elmina Hilsenrath, chief of the department's Community Planning and Land Development bureau, said this is not unusual for projects grandfathered under the adequate facilities law. She said the law protects such projects from artificial delays in the planning process.

"We're trying to see that this project moves forward in the timely manner that [adequate public facilities law] dictates," she said.

If the plan is approved, the Gray Rock Drive Committee will move with an appeal it has already filed with the county Board of Appeals. A hearing is scheduled for Feb. 4.

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