Quarry wins planning board support 3-2 vote comes after stormy session with neighbors

November 22, 1995|By Ed Heard | Ed Heard,SUN STAFF

Over the objections of Jessup residents, the Howard County Planning and Zoning Board voted 3-2 yesterday to recommend a 100-acre quarry on land owned by developer Kingdon Gould Jr., adjacent to about 1,000 homes.

But board Chairman Theodore Mariani said the developer must make a "good faith effort" to cause the least disruption to neighbors, including the promise to compensate them for damage the operation might cause to their property.

The county Board of Appeals is scheduled to make a final decision on the proposal Jan. 4.

The vote came after a stormy three-hour session in Ellicott City during which Jessup residents objected to the project, citing concerns about traffic, tremors from blasts, dust, declining property values and safety.

"Whoever heard of putting in a quarry after the homes?" asked Rosemary Ford, who lives on Cheshire Court, off Mission Road, which encircles the site.

"We've got our life's savings in our homes. We won't be able to give them away."

Chase Limited Partnership wants to quarry crystalline rock on the 546-acre wooded site, which is east of Interstate 95, west of U.S. 1 and south of Route 175. The rock is used for road construction.

If approved by local, state and federal authorities, excavation could begin in three years and last at least 25 years. From 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, the operation would stockpile and process stone, sand, gravel, clay and fill-dirt and could later house an asphalt plant.

After quarry operations are finished, the developers plan to make the quarry -- which could be at least 200 feet deep -- into a lake.

Developers said they would cut down most trees on the property, but would leave a 40-acre conservation area at the north end as a buffer from homes on the east end of Mission Road.

Most of the quarry's operations would be set back at least 100 feet from nearby roads, and developers said they would create a berm to screen the quarry from the neighborhood. The site still might be visible from some homes.

In the past 3 1/2 years, developers have tried to woo residents with promises of a community center, parkland and a return of 5 cents for every ton of rock mined on the site, all for community use.

Last week, Gary Prestianni, president of Ridgelys Run Community Association, endorsed the proposal. He expressed cautious support for the project at yesterday's hearing.

But other Jessup residents at the hearing said they feared the quarry would cause noise, environmental damage and depressed property values.

"I already have noise coming from [Interstate] 95," said Paul J. Allen, whose family's farm is adjacent to the property. "I have to know that I won't now see sinkholes from drilling -- and if I do, I don't want to spend 30 years in court fighting some lawyers to collect damages."

Tim Maier, who lives on nearby Concord Drive, said the 400 trucks expected to operate on the property would cause noise, pollution and traffic jams on U.S. 1. If he had known about the project in advance, Mr. Maier said, "I never would have moved here."

Leah Woodbury, who lives on Mission Road, said gravel and equipment on the property could pose a lethal hazard to children who might trespass despite the 24-hour security developers promise.

And Mike Ivan, a neighbor who works as a real estate agent, said the quarry plan already had driven off potential buyers. "It's stupid," he said. "There's got to be a better way."

Residents also complained that the area already has a prison, a truck stop, a regional wholesale food distributor and other industrial sites.

The board itself was divided on whether the operation would be good for Jessup.

"I believe the use would be an acceptable use," said Joan Lancos, board member.

But member Gary Kaufman disagreed, saying, "I don't see where there's a need for that type of thing in that community. Howard County has a duty to the people who've invested there."

Ms. Lancos, Chairman Mariani and Haskell Arnold voted to recommend the quarry. Mr. Kaufman and Cathy Hartman voted against it.

Caleb Gould, whose family owns the land, was surprised by the volume of opposition.

"It's tough to have a dialogue," said Mr. Gould, after arguing about the quarry with a resident in a hallway immediately after the hearing. "We've made the best effort we can to address concerns."

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