Greater Severna Park civic group picks its own east-west road option

December 10, 1992|By Angela Gambill | Angela Gambill,Staff Writer

After hours of impassioned debate and irate speeches, th Greater Severna Park Council Tuesday took a chance and endorsed an option for the East-West Boulevard that does not exist in the state's plans for the road.

The umbrella group of civic associations voted 34-to-4 to support a two-lane road on an 80-foot right of way that would clip the southern corners of Elvaton Park and extend from Shipley's Choice to Veteran's Highway.

The move has infuriated residents of both neighborhoods, who said they do not want the state to build the road at all.

About 40 protesters accosted County Executive Robert R. Neall, who has supported the road, as he toured Severna Park yesterday. They brandished signs proclaiming "No East-West Boulevard" and accused Mr. Neall of pitting one community against another.

The closest alternative to the council's proposal in the State Highway Administration's report is an alternative specifying a two-lane road that minimizes the taking of parkland and houses. Alternative 2A, Option 3, follows the county's master plan alignment, displacing three homes.

The state's proposal calls for a 110-foot right of way and does not include a hike-bike trail, which the Severna Park council endorsed.

The council also endorsed heavy landscaping and asked that the road be given a name "more in keeping with the residential character of the area."

Council president Pat Troy expected the meeting to be tense, warning members, "Don't interrupt the speakers. Don't make noises when you agree with them. Don't make noises when you disagree with them. Cool it. We're here to explore this issue."

But as the evening wore on, Steve Finlayson, of the Shipley's Choice Homeowners Association, hotly argued that the road would destroy social cohesion in Elvaton and Shipley's Choice.

"We feel this is a developer's solution," Mr. Finlayson growled. "It ends up being a welfare payment to the developers."

He complained that the state won't promise to keep the new road to just two lanes and bar truck traffic, and he railed at Dan Nataf, who had presented the council's position, for "questioning the integrity of the people who opposed East-West Boulevard. This is not a ploy and we are not liars!" he shouted.

Mr. Nataf, chairman of the council's public works committee, angered Shipley's Choice residents when he insisted they knew the road was planned before they bought their houses and shouldn't be complaining now.

Mr. Nataf said the council's plan would provide residents "with an alternative they do not now have" and also would offer a speedy road for emergency vehicles.

"We'll have a dysfunctional Benfield" if the road is not built and traffic doubles by 2105, as predicted, he said. "Unimaginable junctions."

Jim Pell, a long-time Elvaton opponent of East-West Boulevard, fumed that Alternative 2, endorsed by the GSPC, "takes homes of people who've lived there for years, in one case three generations."

He said the greater Severna Park area has little room left to develop and consequently will not grow much, so a new road is not needed.

Instead of an East-West Boulevard, Mr. Pell urged that connecting roads be built within communities, diverting traffic from the Benfield corridor. Remember, he told the council, the alternative it was considering doesn't even exist on the state's books.

But Ms. Troy, encouraging members to support the Council's resolution, said: "We feel our suggestion is a viable alternative, and we have the power and influence to make this happen.

"It's not a perfect solution, but there aren't perfect solutions," she said.

The State Highway Administration scheduled its second hearing the road last night and will accept written testimony through Dec. 24. The SHA is not expected to decide on the issue until next year.

Al Johnston, a GSPC member agreed that it is "unfortunate" that parts of Elvaton would be snipped, but argued that traffic problems on Benfield Boulevard are unbearable. "We have waited 27 years for something to happen and this is our chance."

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