Residents drop lawsuit against road extension

December 08, 1993|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff Writer

Gray Rock Farm and Dorsey Hall residents wouldn't even consider county proposals for speed control measures two years ago, steadfastly opposing the extension of a road that would link their communities and bring increased traffic.

But this week, after more than five years of battling a developer's plans and county orders to extend Gray Rock Drive by about 1,100 feet to connect the neighborhoods, the Gray Rock Drive Committee Inc. has formally relinquished its administrative and legal fight and changed its tack.

The committee dropped its lawsuit Monday against the county Board of Appeals and the Department of Planning and Zoning, canceling a court hearing scheduled for yesterday on the county's motion to dismiss the appeal.

The committee instead has decided to work with the county on traffic mitigation measures, said George Kelly, the committee's attorney.

Committee President Anthony Euler said the group isn't happy about the outcome but that members have resigned themselves to the extension. "We've gone through administrative hoops, but it's going to be a moot point," he said. "We're looking forward to working with the county to try to limit the nuisance the road is going to cause."

Miller Land Co., the Gray Rock Farm developer that is constructing the road extension, expects it to be open by mid-1994, said Paul Miller, the company's president.

The two communities -- which were allies on the committee -- fear that motorists will use Gray Rock Drive as an alternative to Route 29 to get from Ellicott City to Columbia, increasing traffic and safety concerns, Mr. Euler said. Gray Rock Drive now connects with Frederick Road in Ellicott City to the north and Columbia Road in Dorsey's Search Village to the south.

The committee and county officials have discussed measures such as a 30 mph speed limit, installing traffic circles to slow down motorists and providing road markings, Mr. Euler said. Options also include restricting truck traffic and installing traffic lights at intersections with Frederick and Columbia roads.

"We'll be monitoring conditions to make sure things don't deteriorate," said James Irvin, the county public works director. "If there are traffic problems, we'll take measures to protect the community."

The county wanted the road segments connected to enhance the road "network" and provide alternate routes as the development of Gray Rock Farm proceeds, Mr. Irvin said. "We don't want to funnel traffic all on one roadway. There needs to be access for circulation."

Mr. Miller, who has been developing the 266-acre Gray Rock Farm since the late 1970s, said he was relieved to finally be building the road extension.

The Gray Rock Drive Committee appealed the county order in 1989 and requested that the appeal remain pending while the Miller Land Co. progressed through phases of its development. The county had granted Mr. Miller a waiver in 1989, allowing him to postpone the extension until he completed one more phase of development.

"It will be a relief that I can keep on going instead of having people trying to stop the development, which I had a legal right to do," said Mr. Miller, whose Gray Rock Farm community will have nearly 300 homes when completed. "I had a great deal invested there."

Dorsey Hall has about 1,300 dwelling units.

Mr. Miller said some residents will appreciate the convenience of the road connection.

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