Residents, country club clash over road widening CENTRAL COUNTY -- Arnold * Broadneck * Severna Park * Crownsville * Millersville

April 22, 1993|By Angela Winter Ney | Angela Winter Ney,Staff Writer

It's not straight, but the end of Kinder Road in Severna Park is definitely narrow.

Too narrow for some county residents, who are working with the county to widen the road slightly along a short strip that dead-ends in the Chartwell community.

"If a driver veers around someone walking even by a foot, you'll hit the car coming the other way; that's how narrow the road is," said Debbie Chaney, whose parents have lived in the community for 31 years. Ms. Chaney walks her eight-week-old baby along the road.

But from the Chartwell Golf and County Club's perspective, the proposed widening of 1,100 feet of roadway, to include a sidewalk within a 50-foot right-of-way, would destroy the privacy at the club's 13th hole T-box area.

"We can't close our eyes to what this little strip of road means," said Dennis Wells, president of the country club, which would have to give up part of its land for the project. "If you're building it to a 50-foot right-of-way, obviously you'd expect increased traffic."

Mr. Wells said the club fears the widening will be part of more extensive county plans to provide easier access from Kinder Road to Earleigh Heights Road and from there to Ritchie Highway.

If it came to a show-down between the county -- which initiated the project as a safety concern -- and the country club, the county could go to court to condemn the slice of land it needs.

Right now, the road varies between 14 and 18 feet in width. The proposal is to widen the road to 24 feet, with a rain gutter, from the intersection with Kilmarnock Drive to where Kinder Road curves and becomes Drexel Drive.

The board of the Chartwell Community Association voted in February to support the $200,000 county project. "I always go 20 mph through there, because if there's anything on the other side of the hill, you can't see it," Board President Catherine Beverly said. "We have people who jog, ride, walk and wheel babies all day, all week."

Last fall, Ms. Beverly came over the hill at her customary 20 mph. "There were two little boys doing wheelies on the hill on their bikes. I stopped probably 15 inches in front of his bike. I can still see his face. If I'd been going five miles faster, I don't think I could have stopped."

No serious accidents have occurred, she said.

The homeowner's association is supported by the county. The project is "at the top of our priority list for safety improvements. That's how we feel about it safety-wise. It's number one," said spokeswoman Anne Seiling.

But the golfers, who fear a loss of privacy as well as of land, just don't like the project.

Mr. Wells said the club doesn't oppose improving the road for safety. But a 50-foot right-of-way is unnecessary, he said, and could result in motorists going 50 mph, even if the road is posted at 25 mph.

The Greater Severna Park Council is arranging for representatives from the county, the Chartwell community and the country club to discuss the issue. "It's gnawing away at our community. We'd like to get it settled," said council President Pat Troy.

The county planned to begin work on the project July 1, but still must acquire the right-of-way from residents and the country club.

Ms. Seiling said the county has made concessions to the country club. Planners altered the alignment of the proposed road by moving it closer to houses, thus taking less of the golf course. They narrowed the planned road and offered to plant trees between the curb and the woods, as well as planting trees on the golf course itself, to screen the property. They moved the planned sidewalk from the country club side to the house side of Kinder Road. They offered to put up a protective fence in front of the golf course.

Club officials, however, says they haven't seen detailed plans for the road's widening. "We don't have any idea of what [the county's proposed landscaping] would look like," he said.

Nor was he optimistic about resolution. "If we could not get a task force that we've asked for, and we couldn't get a meeting of the minds, I suppose the county can [condemn the property]," he said.

Ms. Beverly, in turn, charges the country club with refusing to cooperate. "I don't want to cause bad feelings between the golf course and the community association, but I'm not pleased," she said. "All of us want it to remain a little country road. But the changes wouldn't make it much wider. We want it to be a safe little country road."

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