Emotions run high at open hearing on proposed Mountain Road bypass Councilman Redmond hears strong criticism

March 29, 1996|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

Voices were raised and tempers flared as more than 700 Pasadena residents packed the auditorium of Chesapeake Senior High School for more than three hours Wednesday night to oppose a Mountain Road bypass.

Nearly all the seats in the auditorium were filled, and many people were willing to stand to show their resistance to County Councilman Thomas W. Redmond's plan to build a 2 1/2 -mile bypass.

"It's wrong," said William L. Long. "You're taking people's homes. That's stupid."

"It's a shame!" Ray Jacobs roared at Mr. Redmond. "If I was you, I wouldn't even run next year."

An overwhelming majority of the audience was opposed to Mr. Redmond's proposal for a two-lane bypass linking Magothy Bridge Road to Mountain Road between South Carolina and Maryland avenues in Lake Shore.

The bypass, designed to divert about one-third of the 27,000 motorists who use Mountain Road daily, would pass south of Jacobsville Park, Lake Shore Athletic Complex and Lake Shore Elementary School. The $10.8 million project would destroy at least seven homes -- a possibility that infuriated many audience members.

"We are not stupid people," said Sharon Long, whose house on South Carolina Avenue is in the bypass corridor. "We are not losing our homes so that someone can get home in 15 minutes."

"It would go through my property and split my barn," said Carroll Ruths, who has lived on Lake Shore Drive for 51 years. "I have 5 1/4 acres, and I don't want to get rid of it like this."

Audience members whistled derisively when Mr. Redmond offered to return residents' phone calls after the forum.

When Mr. Redmond said he would ask county police assigned to the meeting to restore order, he was loudly booed.

"Sounds like a dictatorship to me, Tom," one man yelled.

Many audience members supported adding a lane to the eastbound and westbound sides of Mountain Road between Route 100 and Lake Shore Drive and called on state Sen. Philip C. Jimeno and Del. John R. Leopold -- both of whom were in attendance -- to act quickly.

"Why disturb the wildlife, the roses, the plants? Why tear everything up?" asked Fred Ray, who said he feared the bypass would force him to abandon his horse farm on Woods Road. "Mountain Road is already there. Just widen it."

Others suggested making the center lane on Mountain Road westbound during the morning rush hour and eastbound during the evening rush hour.

Some audience members were upset that the bypass would mean clearing 21 acres of woods and the possible extinction of several endangered plant species.

Velvet Kitzmiller, director of Noah's Ark Wildlife Center Inc. on Lake Shore Drive, wore a squirrel costume and toted a bright pink sign with the words "Please Don't Destroy Our Habitat" to suggest the effect on wildlife.

"We live in a community that is constantly destroying," Mrs. Kitzmiller said. "Have you stopped to think what would happen when you knock down a tree? We are forcing them [the animals] out of their homes."

Many residents blamed builders for overdeveloping the area and pressed Mr. Redmond into promising to introduce a bill to the County Council to place a moratorium on development in Pasadena.

After the forum, Mr. Redmond said he expected the large turnout against his plan.

"There are 60,000 people in this district, and 700 people showed up here," he said. "We have to keep an open mind."

Pub Date: 3/29/96

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