Wheatfield: Model for Compromise HOWARD COUNTY

April 06, 1993

Bravo to the residents of the Wheatfield subdivision of Ellicott City. With determination and a willingness to compromise, they have managed to hammer out an agreement that allows the developer of a parcel adjacent to their neighborhood to proceed with his plans, while addressing their concerns as well.

It did not seem possible just a few short months ago. At that time, the residents of Wheatfield had locked horns with Howard County officials and the developer, accusing both of subterfuge and collusion over re-zoning of the parcel, which sits at the intersection of routes 29 and 103.

The owner of the property, Robert R. Moxley, wanted a zoning change that would allow construction of a large retail center, with a warehouse store on the order of a Wal-Mart. County officials appeared willing to go along. Residents predicted a traffic and noise nightmare if the large project was allowed to proceed.

Clearer heads and cooler emotions ultimately prevailed. The agreement reached between Wheatfield residents and Mr. Moxley will allow about 10 acres along the northern portion of the property to be set aside for office or apartment construction, effectively creating a buffer between the community and a warehouse store, which would occupy the rest of the land.

All that is left is for the county Zoning Board to approve the necessary zoning change to reflect what is in the agreement. It is unlikely that the board will want to fiddle with this accord and risk re-opening a can of worms.

Other communities might consider using the Wheatfield agreement as a model for compromise over growth issues. The zoning board still has before it numerous development proposals that have been fought vehemently by unyielding residents.

Nothing good is likely to come from decisions made by a public body confronted with either-or ultimatums. Negotiation and compromise will almost always produce better and more lasting results.

Given the current environment, however, residents seem intent on wasting an opportunity to be a part of the process. We hope that will change now that striking a balance has been proven to work.

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