Some fear Belt Farm would clog roadway SOUTHEAST -- Sykesville * Eldersburg * Gamber

June 29, 1993|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer

Residents of a 15-year-old subdivision in South Carroll say they don't want to share their one egress to Route 26 with 200 more motorists.

"We all feed into Linton Road to get out of here," said Rebecca Davieau of Huckleberry Lane. "Any more traffic will affect our safety, and the county is not making an effort to protect us."

Linton Road serves as the only access to Liberty Road (Route 26) for the 218 homes in Linton Springs, just north of the highway near Eldersburg.

The Belt Farm development proposed for a 203-acre site east of Linton Springs would dump cars from 99 more households onto the road. Residents said the county will only compound the safety and traffic problems if it gives planning approval to the development.

"You would be dealing with a thousand cars with only one way out of here," said Kathy Lemmer. "It's enough to give you claustrophobia."

Outbound traffic from the community heads south to Route 26 because at its northern end Linton Road deteriorates into a dirt track that motorists avoid.

Ms. Lemmer said that when she saw surveyors on land adjoining her Falmouth Road home in April, alarm bells went off.

She and several other members of the civic association met with the county Bureau of Development Review, which opened its files on the Belt Farm project.

"We are putting the county on notice that we have a safety problem," said Joseph H. Mettle, who has compiled statistics of accidents along Linton Road.

In a letter to the county commissioners, Emile F. Cochet Jr., president of the Linton Springs Civic Association, decried the "substandard design of Linton Road, which has two lanes with no shoulders, poor sight distance, poor horizontal and vertical alignment and many private driveways."

Mr. Cochet cites several recent incidents when accidents and overturned vehicles have blocked Linton Road.

Until the county builds additional accesses to Liberty Road, residents oppose any further development in their neighborhood.

They ask the county to withhold approval for any new subdivisions that don't include another outlet for traffic.

"The development plans are under discussion now, but it is all very preliminary, only in the concept stage," said Bruce Waldron, development review assistant.

Plans may be preliminary, but Mr. Cochet said they "sprung without our involvement."

"We are not opposed to responsible development, which increases revenue and jobs," said Mr. Cochet "We do not want our safety concerns overlooked."

Mr. Mettle calls the decision process "almost clandestine."

"It distresses me to see the county be the defender of the developer, who doesn't live here, at the expense of people who do," he said.

He said he fears plans are moving too quickly and "without involvement from local people."

The proposed development has spurred Linton Springs residents to action, Mr. Cochet said. They have launched a petition drive. Signers recognize the right of Belt Farm owners to build, but not at the expense of the safety of existing households.

"The petitions have been well received," said Ms. Davieau, who added that about 25 percent of the residents have signed. "Almost 100 percent of the neighborhood supports our position. We don't want to stop the builder, just divert traffic."

The petition also includes an alternate proposal: rerouting the existing Bartholow Road along the east side of Belt Farm to Liberty Road and installation of a traffic light at the new intersection.

"We are asking the developer to sacrifice one lot to put in the extension," said Mr. Mettle.

Although no road construction is planned for the immediate future, rerouting Bartholow Road has been part of a street plan for South Carroll for several years, said Steven Horn, senior transportation planner for the county.

"The developer is responsible for roads to service his subdivision as well as egress roads into the subdivision," said Mr. Horn. "As the property develops, the builder is required to either build those roads or pay the county for future construction."

Mr. Cochet said he has had no response to his letter to Ron Canton and Jack Cooper, the Ellicott City-based developers of Belt Farm.

Association members would like to "be included in the planning process and have input on the review," Mr. Cochet said.

"We would like to be involved in the decision-making as soon as possible," Mr. Mettle said.

Mr. Waldron said his department has been open with its files and its time.

Residents will have opportunities to comment when the county Planning and Zoning Commission reviews Belt Farm, he said.

"All our department does is review a concept and hold it against minimum standards," said Mr. Waldron. "When the developer meets those standards, the plan goes before the Planning Commission for approval."

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