State to buy road-noisy residences HOWARD COUNTY

September 03, 1993|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Staff Writer

The State Highway Administration has agreed to offer to buy as many as 24 Ellicott City condominiums because planned Route 100 will be 26 feet closer to them than expected.

The agreement accompanied yesterday's release of State Highway Administrator Hal Kassoff's decision to wind the six-lane highway along the south side of the Deep Run stream, instead of a northern alignment that would have destroyed federally protected wetlands and two houses in a nearby subdivision.

The agreement, which applies to one building at the end of Falls Run Road in the Village of Montgomery Run, is the first time the state has offered to buy homes strictly because of noise impacts, Mr. Kassoff said.

"There have been several instances where we have had voluntary buyouts, particularly where we've changed the residential character of a property," he said.

He described the noise buyout as a continuation of Gov. William Donald Schaefer's policy in highway construction projects of compensating people for losses that are less tangible than the loss of a house or property.

The alignment would put the highway 190 feet from the building, or 26 feet closer than the alignment proposed when the condominiums were built.

In a letter to county officials, SHA officials promise to offer to buy third-floor units at the end of Falls Run Road "that are impacted by noise." Mr. Kassoff said the simple fact of the highway being closer could warrant a buyout.

The lower-floor homes would be protected with a sound wall atop an earthen berm, but officials will meet with owners to see if they would prefer a buyout to the sound barrier.

Jamie LeGoff, whose ground-floor unit faces the future highway right-of-way, said he was "willing to sit down and discuss any options that will not devalue my property."

"I'm in a situation where I wouldn't be able to get into another unit at this price," Mr. LeGoff said.

The decision was greeted with mixed feelings by the area's county councilman, C. Vernon Gray, a Democrat.

Mr. Gray said he was pleased that the project could finally move forward, but unhappy that the decision was made without a recommendation from the County Council.

Of the four members who attended a July meeting, only two council members voted for the alignment.

Mr. Gray and Shane Pendergrass, D-1st, said they did not have enough information to decide.

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