Residents to get paid to escape BWI noise Expenses for moving go to aviation agency

April 07, 1996|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,SUN STAFF

The Maryland Aviation Administration is willing to pick up the tab for Marie Delano to move out from under the noisy flight path of jets from Baltimore-Washington International Airport, but that doesn't mean she's happy about it.

"I'd planned to die here and now I don't know what's going to happen," said Mrs. Delano, 63, who has lived at the Ridgewood Mobile Home Park for 23 years in a yellow and brown, two-bedroom mobile home.

She is among the residents of 150 mobile homes the MAA plans to move from the mobile home park off Ridge Road in Hanover to get them out of the noise zone -- land around the airport deemed too noisy for homes.

The $8 million project is to be paid for with a $6.4 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration and $1.6 million from the state.

It has been complicated, however, because this is the first time the aviation administration has dealt with so many people who must move, and also because Symcha and Joan Shpak, owners of the property, have turned down the airport agency's offer to buy an easement that would prevent future residential use.

The easement would allow the warehouse and other light industrial uses for which the land is zoned, however.

The administration has hired O. R. Colan Associates of South Charleston, W.Va., a national firm that handles right-of-way acquisitions and relocations, to deal with moving the Ridgewood residents. But it can't start until the question of the easement is settled.

Airport officials would not say how much money they offered the Shpaks in September, but Michael C. West, the airport agency's associate administrator of planning and engineering, said it is "less than [Mr. Shpak] thinks it's worth."

Attempts to negotiate a settlement with the Shpaks have been unsuccessful, and the aviation administration is ready to ask the state Board of Public Works for a condemnation order and go to court, where a jury would decide the price.

Mr. Shpak was traveling and could not be reached for comment, his secretary said.

"This is kind of an unusual situation," Mr. West conceded. "We have not used condemnation in our noise programs in the past. The residents want us to pursue this project."

The residents, who own their mobile homes but pay $320 a month to rent 80-by-30-foot lots, say they are caught in the middle of the fight between their landlord and the airport administration.

"We feel like a child from a divorced family and that we're being pulled and our lives are being disrupted," said Mrs. Delano, former president of the Anne Arundel County Mobile Home Owners Association. Her neighbors agreed.

Kelli Duncan and her husband, Ernest, saved for 10 years to make a down payment on their two-bedroom, two-bath 1984 mobile home.

"It might not look like much, but that's my first home and I'm proud of it. Now I have to give it up," said Mrs. Duncan, 34, who moved to Ridgewood four years ago.

She also worries about having to pull her sons Jacob, 11, and Joshua, 12, out of school in the middle of the year.

Her neighbor, Vanessa Hinkley, has the same fears for her daughter, Rebecca, 11.

"I don't want to have to start her in this school and turn around and put her in another school," said Mrs. Hinkley, 37, who grew up at Ridgewood.

The mobile homes, which sit on about 17 of the Shpaks'72 undeveloped acres, are particularly vulnerable to jet noise because they are not insulated or soundproofed as well as houses, and can't be, airport officials said.

The residents' biggest problem is with jets taking off from the main east-west runway. The walls of the mobile homes vibrate, dishes rattle, conversations are disrupted and summer cookouts are ruined.

And the noise can only get worse if a planned, parallel runway close to Dorsey Road is completed.

The mobile home park would be one mile from where the proposed runway ends, Mr. West said.

Residents had been concerned that the Shpaks would sell the land to a developer after it was rezoned from residential to industrial use seven years ago and they could be forced to move at their expense.

"That's when we started working with the airport because we knew something was going to happen and it wasn't feasible to have a mobile home park here," Mrs. Delano said.

"We did not want to be sitting ducks here for the landlord to sell the property off for warehouses," she said.

Under the state's plan, residents would be paid a lump sum either to move to another mobile home park or be reimbursed for the value of their mobile home by MAA, said Thomas M. Kretzschmar, project manager for O. R. Colan. They also could move into apartments or buy homes, he said.

If pad rents at their new mobile park were higher than at Ridgewood, they would be paid the difference for 42 months, Mr. Kretzschmar said.

To be eligible for full relocation assistance, an occupant must have lived at the park for 180 days before the state made its offer to the Shpaks in September, he said.

Mr. Kretzschmar has visited parks in Arundel and Howard counties and Baltimore City and said space should be available once the relocation project begins.

But some of the parks he visited have age restrictions on the mobile homes they will accept, and most of the homes at Ridgewood don't meet that criterion, he added.

Meanwhile, state officials "can't do anything in terms of offering the residents financial assistance until after the trial or settlement with the property owner," Mr. West said.

And the residents, who are grateful the state will pay for their moves, are getting frustrated that the negotiations between the MAA and the Shpaks are taking so long and that they have no say in the matter.

"I just want to get it [the negotiations] finalized," Mrs. Delano said.

Pub Date: 4/07/96

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