Route 100 bill held pending noise abatement guarantee Senate panel delays killing measure

March 24, 1993|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Staff Writer

A state bill aimed at protecting condominium owners from Route 100 highway noise may not be needed, but a Senate committee isn't ready to kill the measure.

State Sen. Thomas Patrick O'Reilly, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said the legislation might not be necessary because the State Highway Administration appears willing to protect homeowners in southern Ellicott City from highway noise.

The bill, introduced by Howard Sen. Thomas M. Yeager, D-13, would require the SHA to buy up homes within a 65-decibel noise area if the noise cannot be reduced with walls or other abatements.

Senate committee members voted 11-0 against the proposal Friday, but the committee won't send its recommendation to the full Senate until getting assurances from SHA that it and the county government will provide either noise abatement or financial compensation to affected homeowners.

The lawmakers also are reluctant to get involved in a dispute over how the six-lane Route 100 highway will cut through the thin strip of land between condominiums in the Village of Montgomery Run and houses in Hunt Country Estates.

Hunt Country Estates residents opposed the bill, arguing that it would make their favored alignment, called the "Lazy S," too expensive, thereby forcing the state to build the road through a corner of their community.

Mr. Yeager said the bill is intended to protect homeowners.

"We're very pleased. It was a bad bill, and none of them voted for it and we're very happy to see that," said Lori Lease, a Hunt Country Estates resident who testified against the proposal at a March 3 hearing.

Instead of purchasing homes from homeowners in the noise zone, the SHA has proposed building sound barriers, guaranteeing a fair sale price for homes or buying a "noise easement" equal to the home's lost value.

But the highway administration has not worked out specifics, said Charles B. Adams, SHA director of environmental design. "From my perspective at this point, it's probably a little premature to say, 'yes, we'll do it,' " without knowing which alignment will be used for Route 100, he said. "I don't know at this point how many homes or condominiums are going to be impacted."

Mr. Yeager proposed the legislation in response to concerns of second- and third-floor residents of condominiums of the Village of Montgomery Run. If approved, however, the legislation would extend noise protection statewide.

The condominium residents oppose the "Lazy S" route because it will come within 100 feet of some units. That alignment is favored by federal regulators seeking to protect the wetlands of the Deep Run stream.

"In our case, specifically, I am hopeful that the situation will work out to protect the homeowners in Montgomery Run," said Kim Abramson, Route 100 Task Force coordinator for the development's 588 condominium owners.

Protecting Deep Run has left the SHA with a choice of adopting the Lazy S to the south of the stream or another alignment to the north, which would require the destruction of two homes in the Hunt Country Estates subdivision.

Mr. Adams said the northern route would allow the state to use noise barrier walls to protect Hunt Country Estates homeowners. If the southern route near the condominium community is chosen, a home or noise easement purchase program will probably be necessary.

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