Trotter Road decision leaves ruffled feathers

December 09, 1992|By Mark Guidera | Mark Guidera,Staff Writer Staff Writer Eric Nelson contributed to this article.

Trotter Road residents are angry and discouraged by the County Council's vote Tuesday against a plan to make the quiet country road a dead-end.

They say it has become a thoroughfare between Routes 108 and 32.

Residents say they will demand routine police patrols to catch speeders and vow they'll work in the 1994 election to make sure County Council Chairman Paul S. Farragut, who sponsored the resolution to keep Trotter Road open, doesn't remain their representative.

"We're just ordinary people who want to live a quiet life on a quiet road. What's wrong with that?" said Shirley Geis, president of the Trotter Road Civic Association.

Mr. Farragut said he is disappointed that some residents believe mislead them about his plans for the road. "I don't think I've accomplished more for a civic association than I have for them," he said.

Mr. Farragut said he believes the plan he worked out for Trotter Road balances the needs of many competing interests, including those of new residents who will move to the area as River Hill, Columbia's last planned village, is developed.

He said the plan adopted by the council will ensure that Trotter Road becomes a dead-end south of Route 32, protecting two schools from pass-through traffic.

The road also will be designated as a scenic road, ensuring that its winding, country character cannot be altered. The councilman also will ask county traffic experts to look into prohibiting large trucks on the road soon after development in the area is complete.

Because road changes are made in the form of resolutions rather than bills, residents can only appeal the council's decision through the courts, rather than bringing the issue before the county Board of Appeals.

"We wish we had the money to hire a lawyer and appeal this to a court, but that would cost us $20,000 to $40,000. That's money we don't have," said Ms. Geis.

The council voted unanimously Tuesday to change the county's General Plan, eliminating a plan to block Trotter Road just west of Columbia, north of Route 32, a heavily traveled artery between Columbia and Clarksville. The council voted to keep Trotter Road open and require that a new road be built to provide a connection for traffic from River Hill neighborhoods to eastbound Route 32.

Mr. Farragut proposed the change in response to complaints from residents who already have bought new homes in the planned 600-home Pointer's Run neighborhood that truncating Trotter Road would mean their children would be switched to different schools. Others argued that emergency vehicles would delayed in responding to incidents on the south end of the road, particularly after the Village of River Hill is completed with as many as 2,600 homes.

Opponents of keeping the road open were dealt another setback Wednesday when the county Planning Board voted 3-2 to approve a final plan for a 71-acre parcel of Pointer's Run, a new housing development on the east side of Trotter Road, north of Route 32. Residents wanted the board to require the developer, the Rouse Co., to build a temporary road to keep construction traffic off Trotter Road.

Ms. Geis and other residents contend that speeding on Trotter Road by motorists using it as a shortcut between Routes 32 and 108 is common -- and worrisome. She and others also are convinced that as traffic volume on Trotter Road from River Hill's developing neighborhoods, the county will be forced to straighten or widen the road, ending its scenic character.

"The speed limit on Trotter Road is 30, but do you think anyone does 30? Hell, no. They do 50 and 60," said Ms. Geis. "It's a miracle there hasn't been a horrible accident. Every time any of us tries to pull out of our driveways we spend a lot of time praying first."

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