Meandering Patuxent torments Allview residents

April 19, 1994|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Sun Staff Writer

Residents of Allview Estates who have watched the Little Patuxent River leave its banks and lap up to their back yards are hoping the Columbia Association can make the river behave.

For about three years, the nonprofit association that runs public programs in Columbia has owned open space on both sides of the river next to the 36-year-old Allview community.

Last week, Chick Rhodehamel, the association's ecologist, told residents that work crews have identified about 15 major stream blockages and snags, most of them from fallen trees, that cause the river to meander.

The association plans to send a work crew out with a pickup truck, backhoe and a small track loader, but first it needs permits from the state Department of Natural Resources to remove the blockages. Getting the permits could take two months.

Mr. Rhodehamel spoke to residents Thursday night at a meeting of the Allview-Arrowhead Civic Association organized by Del. Virginia Thomas, D-13A.

Ms. Thomas and civic association members are still trying to determine who owns land around the Beaver Run, a creek that runs along the southern edge of Allview Estates before it joins the Little Patuxent.

Combined with periodic flooding for low-lying homes in the community are frequent power outages that shut off sump pumps, residents say.

Cory J. Summerson, a consumer advocate who works for the Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., was also invited to the meeting to hear residents' complaints.

"I think what I'm hearing is that no matter where you live in Allview, you're going to have problems," Mr. Summerson said.

He said the company would try to alleviate the problem by installing an underground electric line connecting two main lines that feed two sides of Allview Estates, install molded rubber protectors on transformers to keep animals from short-circuiting them, and trim trees near lines.

Problems with the Little Patuxent may affect other communities, if George Fiackos' assessment holds true.

He said the stream appears to be losing to erosion between two and three feet of its west bank each year, putting it closer to one of the county's main sewer lines.

"I like the stream the way it is, but I want to see it stabilized," said Mr. Fiackos, whose back yard borders the Columbia Association-

owned riverbank area. "It's about twice as wide now as it was when I moved there."

The likely reason the river seems to be eroding faster now is that there is more concrete and blacktop to speed water flow and less porous soil to absorb and slow it.

"It's not Allview's fault that the county allowed development upstream without proper safeguards," Ms. Thomas said. "It's just disrespectful to the older communities, and it's got to stop."

The Allview community has a built-in disadvantage, however, as many of its lots are in 100-year flood plain areas. If developed today, subdivision regulations would prohibit the creation of such lots, said Joseph W. Rutter Jr. county director of planning and zoning.

More abundant rainfall may also be a factor in recent problems with water seeping into basements and riverbank erosion, Mr. Rhodehamel said.

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