Jessup homeowners organize over quarry issue

April 29, 1994|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,Sun Staff Writer

Jessup homeowners have organized a new community association they hope will give them a "unified voice" in negotiations with Washington businessman Kingdon Gould, who wants to develop a quarry in their neighborhood.

Called Ridgelys Run Community Association, the organization includes developments east of Interstate 95, west of U.S. 1, north of Guilford Road and south of Route 175. Organizers say the association will deal with other issues of concern to members of the community of more than 500 homes.

About 50 people attended a Tuesday night meeting at the Holiday Inn in Jessup to hear a nine-member committee representing the home owners outline Mr. Gould's development plans and his promises to the Jessup community.

"We're trying to get together and have one big voice, instead of a lot of small voices," said Gary Prestianni, one of the committee members who has met with Mr. Gould.

Several of the neighborhoods have smaller community groups or homeowners associations, but the proposed quarry has drawn all of them together and the new association could expand to include other nearby developments, as members recruit more residents and then vote whether to support or oppose the quarry.

The proposal for a quarry originated about six years ago when the state Department of Natural Resources advised Mr. Gould that crystalline rock had been identified on the Chase Property, a 600-acre wooded site he owns.

The diabase rock, known as Baltimore Gabbro, is considered of superior quality because of its hardness, uniform texture and abrasion resistance. It also is free of asbestos.

Mr. Gould's property might be one of the last remaining sources of the rock that is used primarily in road construction in Maryland, according to DNR.

That was small comfort to some homeowners who say that blasting, dust and noise will disrupt their lives.

"The location will stink," said Jessup homeowner Rosemary Ford. "I don't want it."

"We should be given time to go back to our individual communities and discuss this," said Jessup homeowner Francis Afoakwah. "Right now it looks like everybody has his or her own individual ideas."

Members of the committee who have met with Mr. Gould over the past 1 1/2 years tried to allay some of the homeowners' fears by pointing out agreements that Mr. Gould has made in a packet distributed in the Jessup area.

Those agreements include:

* The construction of a community center at the developer's expense.

* The donation of about 40 acres of standing forest and stream valleys to the Howard County Conservancy and/or Maryland Environmental Trust as permanent parkland.

* The donation of 5 cents per ton of marketable stone to the Ridgelys Run Community Association, with a minimum of $50,000 per year.

* And, at the conclusion of quarry operations, 140 acres of land that will include a 100-acre lake, forest land and stream valleys will be donated to the conservancy.

Mr. Gould has pledged that if the homeowners don't want the quarry, he won't develop it.

"That is what we have published," said Caleb Gould, reaffirming his father's position at Tuesday night's meeting.

"There are some good things here. It's going to be for our best," said committee member Thomasina Johnson of the development plan.

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