Dell defends I-795 extension proposal

March 23, 1993|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer

A group of Finksburg-area residents yesterday forced Carroll Commissioner Donald I. Dell to defend his proposal to extend Interstate 795 through the county.

Mr. Dell said his plan is just an idea and not approved. But residents have seen a map of the proposed route, and some want to start a citizens group to oppose it.

"I wonder if another big road is what the people of Carroll County want," said Anne Raver, whose family has owned a 120-acre farm off Emory Road for four generations.

"What is the county's vision? Because this is a residential area. They [residents] don't want it to turn into a Pikesville," said Ms. Raver, a New York Times reporter who spends time with her mother, Kathleen Raver, on their farm.

Mr. Dell has proposed extending I-795 from Baltimore County through Carroll to connect with Route 15 in Pennsylvania. The road would parallel Route 140 and eliminate planned bypasses around Hampstead, Manchester and Westminster, he said.

The commissioner links the highway extension with his proposal to build an incinerator at the Northern Landfill and a sewer plant in Finksburg. He also said he would like the county to concentrate industrial growth along Route 140 in Finksburg.

He said it would be at least 12 years before any part of his plan would be built.

"It's not a done deal," he told about 50 people yesterday at a meeting of the county's Transportation Advisory Council at the Comfort Inn in Westminster. "It is an idea."

"I haven't done any research. I don't have the ability to do any research," he said.

Commissioner Julia W. Gouge said the Board of County Commissioners has not endorsed the idea of extending I-795 because there are "too many questions out there."

Mrs. Gouge, a former Hampstead mayor, said she wants to see the Route 30 bypass around Hampstead and Manchester built.

Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy did not attend the meeting, but has said he supports Mr. Dell's idea.

"I favor it completely. It's innovative," he said.

Mary Lewis of Elderberry Lane in Finksburg said she would like to start a citizens group to discuss alternatives to the extension, such as using more park-and-ride lots, car pools and commuter buses.

The idea "creates an awful bad smell for people living in the area now," said Kim Edel, who lives off Emory Road. "It's [cheating] us out of perhaps appreciation as far as our property values."

Mr. Edel and Mr. Dell got into a short exchange when Mr. Edel hinted that Mr. Dell might lose his commission seat over the issue. The commissioner responded by saying he doesn't make decisions based on threats.

Mr. Dell said the proposed road extension could come within a half-mile of his farm on Sullivan Road.

He said he has heard criticism of his proposal because his campaign slogan two years ago was "Keep it Country." He said he also talked about extending I-795 during the campaign.

Building an incinerator, concentrating industrial development, and building one bypass instead of three will save land that could be preserved for agriculture, Mr. Dell said.

Ms. Raver was not impressed.

"I don't think he has a plan really. His points were rather vague," she said.

Residents need to know why the road extension is needed, she said. It might be more economical to improve Route 140, she added.

She also said the quality of life would be diminished for people who buy lots in the new River Downs housing development, which would be bisected by the road extension.

Construction on River Downs should begin this summer, said Richard A. Moore of Gaylord Brooks Realty Co. of Phoenix, Md. Home prices will range from $275,000 to $375,000, he said.

The 130-lot development, off Emory Road near Lawndale Road, also will have an 18-hole golf course. The Patapsco River flows through the 600-acre parcel.

Mr. Moore said he has heard about Mr. Dell's plan, but has not studied it. Improving county roads makes sense, but the plan to extend I-795 may have to be changed, he said.

"He'll have to move it or pay a lot of money to buy the lots," he said.

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