Residents tired of runoff from housing site want road closed at Pa. border

January 22, 1995|By Patrick Gilbert | Patrick Gilbert,Sun Staff Writer

Residents on Keeney Road in northern Baltimore County want to shut out Pennsylvania once and for all. Tired of fighting a bureaucratic border war over runoff from a housing development, residents want to close their road at the state line.

For years, nothing much exciting happened along this quiet rural stretch of the Maryland-Pennsylvania border just south of New Freedom, Pa., in the Freeland area.

That was before construction began this summer on Section 5 of the Quail Ridge housing development in Pennsylvania near the border.

Eroded soil and storm water runoff from the construction site flowed over the state line into Maryland and turned Keeney Road into a silt-laden stream that destroyed gardens, polluted nearby Bee Tree Run and turned the road into an ice rink this winter.

Keeney Road residents have petitioned Baltimore County to have their road closed to block traffic from the housing development.

'Tried everything else'

"It seems like the only thing left that we can do," said Mary Ellen Miller, a Keeney Road resident since 1983. "We've tried everything else and for our efforts, we just got passed around from one agency to the next."

Officials from Maryland and Pennsylvania say they have done everything possible to alleviate problems on Keeney Road and that the residents aren't being realistic.

Although the development of Quail Ridge began several years ago, problems along Keeney Road did not escalate until last summer when ground excavation and clearing began for Section 5.

Frances P. Turner, who lives in the last house in Maryland on Keeney Road, saw her organic vegetable and flower gardens disappear under water.

After residents sent letters to state elected officials and the Maryland Department of the Environment (DOE) became involved, discussions with Pennsylvania officials and the Quail Ridge contractor began to produce some results.

Michael C. Reahl, chief of water management administration in DOE, said the state got involved because of concerns about potential pollution of Bee Tree Run.

But Maryland officials can't inspect what is going on in another state, he said. So, they relied on the findings of Pennsylvania state and local officials.

Violations found

Inspectors from York County Soil Conservation District found violations of the sediment control and erosion plan submitted by Robert A. Kinsley Inc., the contractor.

York County officials also found that the contractor was pumping rain water from foundation excavations and sediment ponds and letting it flow across the state line into Maryland, said Blaine A. Markel, a soil technician for York County.

Pennsylvania officials said they have done all they can.

"The contractor is now on compliance," said Mr. Markel. "Except for a few minor problems he needs to resolve, we are satisfied."

Mr. Reahl said Maryland officials are confident that their counterparts in Pennsylvania "have everything well in hand."

Stone mound tried

In early July, Baltimore County officials did their bit to help,

dumping a 4-foot-high wall of stone across Keeney Road at the state line. But even now, a steady flow of water gets under the stone mound.

On Friday, Ms. Turner said, a heavy morning rain turned the road into a river.

"It was a stream of mud, water and debris," she said. The water inundated her yard yet again.

At times during this otherwise mild winter, the water on the road has frozen, requiring attention from county salt trucks.

"We had a child slip and fall on the road one morning walking to the bus stop," Ms. Turner said.

After several unsuccessful attempts, county officials have worked out an agreement with the contractor for a more permanent solution to the problem along Keeney Road.

County pressures contractor

Thomas H. Hamer, acting county public works director, said the contractor initially rejected overtures from the county. It took some implied threats to finally persuade the contractor to work with the county, Mr. Hamer said.

"We just simply pointed out that he does business in our county and he needs to keep in good standing with us," he said.

Kinsley agreed to install a pipe from the state line along Keeney Road, Mr. Hamer said. The pipe would connect with an outfall ditch that the county would construct for the remainder of the distance to Bee Tree Run.

Officials from Kinsley did not respond to requests for comment.

Public hearing planned

Mr. Hamer said work has not started on the pipe or outfall ditch because residents haven't given up some of their rights of way. Residents said they are waiting for the county to put the plans in writing.

All the residents along Keeney Road support permanently closing the road, said Ms. Miller. A public hearing will be held on the request.

Lois M. Bergman, an attorney with the real estate section of the county Office of Law, said she isn't sure if Pennsylvania residents would be allowed to take part in a hearing on the closing of a county road.

"We don't want their 30-foot-wide road funneling into our 12-foot wide road," said Ms. Turner. "We don't want their traffic speeding down our road. We've had enough of their stuff coming down our road."

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.