Mount Airy panel to study road plan Neighbors hope to amend design

November 05, 1993|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Staff Writer

Three East Ridgeville Boulevard homeowners who don't want a road running through their back yards will serve on a newly formed committee to study the implications of building the road.

Mount Airy's Town Council appointed the committee this week on the recommendation of the town's Planning and Zoning Commission. The council also approved developer Robert Peacock's request to begin construction of the first portion of the new road -- which eventually will become East Ridgeville Boulevard -- through his 13-acre property at Route 27 and Interstate 70.

Residents who oppose the road say it will lower property values.

They say they already put up with more than their share of traffic and noise because I-70 and the railroad tracks lie behind their homes.

"I really don't want [the road] to come through, but I don't think there's any way of stopping it," said East Ridgeville Boulevard resident and committee member Pete Nicholson.

"But maybe we can get it reshifted to where it doesn't affect us," he added. "Right now, it's [planned to be] 70 or 80 feet behind my house."

In addition to Mr. Nicholson, committee members are East Ridgeville Boulevard residents Robert Best and Robert Barton, Conestoga Heights resident Jay Newman, councilmen Marc Nance and Oliver Davis, town engineer Steve Roberts and town planner Teresa Bamberger.

"These property owners have a valid concern. They want to know what to plan for," said Ms. Bamberger. "And through the committee, we have to see if we can give them some answers."

The preliminary road design recommended by the Planning and Zoning Commission and approved by the Town Council would take portions of property belonging to three East Ridgeville Boulevard residents for the new road.

If construction goes ahead as planned, the homeowners say they want their remaining property to be rezoned for commercial use because it will be unsuitable as a residential area.

"I'm refinancing right now, and the appraiser said that with I-70 being so close, it hurt me a little bit," Mr. Nicholson said. "But the new road would really put a crimp on it."

Ms. Bamberger said another option may be to create a cul-de-sac at the end of the old East Ridgeville Boulevard, limiting the street to residential traffic.

The issue of the realignment of East Ridgeville Boulevard emerged more than a year ago, when Mr. Peacock sought council approval to build a road through his property, which is zoned for commercial development.

Mr. Peacock said that poor access to the property severely limited his efforts to market it. The council voted to support the road through Mr. Peacock's property and extend it so that it would run south of and parallel to the current route of East Ridgeville Boulevard.

Mr. Peacock recently received approval from the State Highway Administration to extend the new road across Route 27.

The town's decision to support construction of a new East Ridgeville Boulevard makes sense for several reasons, Ms. Bamberger said.

In addition to Mr. Peacock's property, 40 acres at the east end of East Ridgeville Boulevard are zoned for industrial development. If this land is developed, she said, it would create truck traffic that the current East Ridgeville Boulevard isn't equipped to handle.

"The old East Ridgeville Boulevard is substandard today," Ms. Bamberger said. "It will be difficult, if not impossible, to improve it without seriously impacting the neighborhood."

Ms. Bamberger said it will be at least 10 years before the new road is even partially completed.

Construction of the new road east of Mr. Peacock's property would be dependent on the cooperation of the four major property owners in the area, which is zoned for low-density residential use.

However, the land isn't well-suited for residential development, and the town may approach the owners about rezoning it for industrial or commercial use, Ms. Bamberger said.

"Bringing a road through here offers an opportunity to get a better type of use on the property and do it in a way that won't have any negative impact on the residential area of East Ridgeville Boulevard," Ms. Bamberger said.

But homeowners who may lose portions of their property disagree.

Mr. Nicholson said he'd rather see the town make improvements to the old East Ridgeville Boulevard than have developers build a new road.

"But the town of Mount Airy isn't going to spend money on the road," he said. "This way, there's no money out of their pocket and they get themselves a nice new road."

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