Proposed nursing home is opposed Homeowners in area fear traffic congestion

November 16, 1995|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

A $27 million nursing home and assisted-living facility planned by a Rockville company outside Annapolis could cause huge traffic jams, nearby residents fear.

"I think it's a terrible idea," said Joanne Johnson, president of the Southaven Community Association.

Mrs. Johnson is worried that the 2 1/2 -story center Beechwood Heritage Retirement Community Inc. wants to build on 11.37 acres off South Haven Road would clog traffic on the two-lane road that is the main route from Defense Highway to the South Haven peninsula.

She is upset that the 150,380-square-foot center could have as many as 250 employees. The nursing home would have 150 beds, and the assisted-living facility would have 87 units.

"We've got traffic going in and out all day long," Mrs. Johnson said. "If they were to put something like this and expect 250 employees and plus all of the visitors, there's no way our little two-lane road can handle it."

The employees' schedules would be staggered throughout the day, said Kwasi Frempong, vice president of public finance for Baltimore-based Ferris Baker Watts Inc., which is helping to finance the project.

Beechwood Heritage is asking for the county's help in obtaining low-interest financing for the project through the sale of tax-exempt bonds. If the council agrees, it must approve a resolution for the bonds.

Mr. Frempong said of the visitors: "I think it's a genuine concern, but most family members don't visit every day. It's usually just for weekends or special events like birthdays or for Sunday service. Rarely are family members trooping in and out."

Mrs. Johnson pointed to the 70 homes in her community, 60 in nearby Bon Haven, 35 in Windfern Forest and 2,500 in Heritage Harbour, a retirement community. Most of the residents of those communities use South Haven Road to get on and off the peninsula, she said.

"Definitely, we would need major traffic improvement to handle anything like that," Mrs. Johnson said.

"Our road absolutely couldn't handle it."

County Councilman William C. Mulford II, whose district includes the South Haven area, said he was undecided about the plan's feasibility.

"In theory, it's wonderful," he said.

"But is it compatible with the neighborhood and the infrastructure out there? I'm not sure."

Mr. Frempong said a study conducted by an independent accounting firm hired by Beechwood Heritage showed a clear need for such a center.

"There are a lot of elderly people in the county," Mr. Frempong said.

"People tend to live longer. We have a growing number of people who need services, and these services are not available."

Patricia McGarty, a spokeswoman for the county Department of Aging, said the Maryland Office of Planning estimates that the number of county residents over age 65 increased from 37,430 in 1990 to 42,837 in 1995 and would reach 46,572 by 2000.

"In general, there is going to be a dramatic increase in the number of old persons living in Anne Arundel County," Ms. McGarty said. "Typically, these people need assistance living."

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