Trees cut residents are unhappy SOUTHEAST--Sykesville * Eldersburg * Gamber

August 17, 1993|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff Writer

The destruction of trees along Harvest Farm Road in Eldersburg has angered neighbors who were used to a pristine view, but Carroll officials said the clearing does not violate the county's forest conservation law.

Neil Ridgely, Carroll's program manager for landscaping and forest conservation, said final grading plans for both sections of Marriott Wood at Harvest Farm and Marriottsville roads were approved days before the county's forest conservation law became effective Dec. 8, 1992.

Under the county law, anyone who disturbs 25,000 square feet or more of land must replace trees felled during development. Developers also are required to plant trees in certain areas, such as agriculturally zoned land, where they did not previously grow.

"The plans were approved prior to the forest ordinance," Mr. Ridgely said. "The developer that guided the plan through the review process was very cooperative in trying to preserve as many trees as possible in very difficult situation."

Mr. Ridgely said there was no way all the trees could have been left on the lots because of grading and storm water management requirements. The developer plans to build 15 single-family homes on a 12.7 acre lot that abuts the Carroll Highlands development.

"The key is that a lot along Harvest Farm Road had to be cleared for grading," said Stephen Ford, supervisor of the county's Bureau of Development Review. "Everything being done there is being done in accordance with plans. To get the grading done, the developer had to take some trees out. That's all there is to it."

Marriott Wood's second section calls for five single-family homes on about seven acres, county officials said. That section is not under construction yet.

Since the subdivision was approved, the developer, Techstar Inc. of Ellicott City, has sold some lots to other builders, who are supposed to be building according to grading plans, county officials said.

Jean Nortrup, who lives on Autumn View Court adjacent to Marriott Wood, said the name of the development is a misnomer. She said it should be named Marriott Clearing.

"They cleared a massive amount of trees and mulched them on the site," said Mrs. Nortrup, who has lived there 12 years. "The dust is everywhere and air pollution is overwhelming."

Mr. Ridgely agreed that destroying trees is often "emotional and upsetting" for neighbors accustomed to seeing wooded lots.

"There's no way the trees could have been left," he said. "What you end up with in this situation is that you have to clear for utilities, roadways and house areas. The good news is that the developer is making efforts to save as many of the trees as possible." He said the destruction at Marriott Wood illustrates the importance of the county's forest conservation law.

Mr. Ridgely said that if Marriott Wood had been required to follow the law there would have been an emphasis on preserving trees or planting new ones and homes may have been clustered closer together to save trees.

"It's unfortunate, there were so many plans approved just prior to the adoption of the forest conservation ordinance that people are going to continue to see this destruction and not understand that some plans were grandfathered," he said. "They are going to see trees tore down and it's not going to make any sense."

Although the removal of trees has raised their ire, Carroll Highlands residents also have complained about dust and noise pollution caused by construction.

"My only complaint at this time is that our pool has had a lot of mud in it," said Carole Haase, who also lives on Autumn View Court. "We got it cleaned up so far. I just think they went the wrong way about doing things. And that bothers me. They could have sprayed and wet down [before grading]."

Gale Smith, the county's chief grading and sediment control inspector, said residents who are concerned about dust should call complain to the county. She said the county can require the developer to have a water truck spray the site on a regular basis.

"We have no other requirement for dust control," she said. "It's really hard to control dust this time of the year with the lack of rainfall."

Other environmental concerns, Ms. Smith said, should be forwarded to the county health department.

County officials said grading is being done according to plans and that grading officials are watching the development closely.

"The grading inspector has walked the site very carefully," Mr. Ridgely said. "He believes the builders are staying within the subdivision plans."

Like other residents, Mrs. Haase said "no one likes to see growth in their back yard. It's kind of a shock seeing trees cut down."

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