Planned firehouse angers neighbors Wheatfield residents face a new battle ELLICOTT CITY/ELKRIDGE

August 30, 1993|By Sherry Joe | Sherry Joe,Staff Writer

Residents of the Wheatfield community in Ellicott City say they're fed up with fighting development they fear will bring noise and traffic congestion to their neighborhood.

The latest is a proposal to build a fire station near U.S. Route 29, Route 103, and Route 100, which is under construction.

"Every time we turn around, we're fighting something," resident Cathi Higgins said. "We don't want anymore. We're tired of fighting."

Residents have lost some tough fights in recent years to block construction of Route 100 and a 44-acre retail center, which would include warehouse-sized stores such as Wal-Mart, adjacent to their neighborhood off Route 103.

"You can only put upon a community so much," resident Mark Muedeking said. "The Wheatfield community made substantial concessions."

But County Executive Charles I. Ecker said plans for a new fire station haven't been finalized.

For the past two months, however, county officials have been negotiating with developer Robert R. Moxley to buy two acres of land west of the Ellicott City Armory near Wheatfield.

If the firehouse is built there, it would replace the fire station on Main Street in Ellicott City's historic district and serve Ellicott City and the Dorsey Hall area, which has no fire station.

County officials also are considering a two-acre site in Dorsey Hall near the Dorsey's Search village shopping center, Mr. Ecker said.

There are no plans to place the firehouse in a 10-acre buffer zone along Long Gate Parkway between the 425-home Wheatfield community and the planned retail center.

The buffer area is zoned to accommodate office and research facilities.

If the firehouse is built anywhere on the Moxley property, it would be adjacent to the armory, said David Carney, Mr. Moxley's attorney. "You couldn't have a better location that has access to U.S. 29 to provide emergency services," Mr. Carney said.

Although the proposed site is a half-mile from Wheatfield, residents still worry about noise.

"We're still going to hear the sirens and engines going out," Ms. Higgins said. "We'll hear them, not just during the day but at 1 a.m. and 2 a.m."

The prospect of prompt service does not reassure Wheatfield residents. "How much more assistance would this bring?" asked Ms. Higgins. "I would rather have it farther away."

When deciding where to place fire stations, emergency officials consider such factors as population, response time and proximity to county boundaries, Mr. Ecker said.

Mr. Ecker said that he would meet with residents once a site is

selected, possibly within the next six months.

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