Residents oppose plans for Rite Aid 10,000-sq. ft. store in Arnold to replace Damon's restaurant

'Gives me a headache'

Project's engineers say ponds, fences can guard Dividing Creek

July 24, 1996|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

A pharmaceutical chain's plans to build a 10,000 square-foot super store at Ritchie Highway and Jones Station Road are making some Arnold residents ill.

They are worried that Rite Aid's plans to raze the old Damon's restaurant building on the southeast corner of the intersection and replace it with a massive store and 49 parking spaces will damage nearby Dividing Creek by allowing more silt to flow into it.

"This project gives me a headache, and I'm not going to buy my aspirin from Rite Aid," Walter Skretch told Rite-Aid representatives at a hearing Monday night before state Department of the Environment officials.

Wayne A. Newton, an engineer designing the project for the Pennsylvania-based chain, tried to reassure residents that storm-water retention ponds and a large silt fence that are part of the plans would alleviate problems with run-off but didn't have much success.

Silt flows into Dividing Creek at an alarming rate as it is, residents said. The Rite-Aid project could only make it worse, they said.

"Our creek is in trouble," argued Nishan Topjian, who has lived on Dividing Creek Road for eight years. He said he and his neighbors have measured about four feet of mud and debris in the creek after storms.

Rite Aid's plans call for tearing down the restaurant building and replacing it with a 10,000-square-foot store in the middle of the existing parking lot.

But to do that, the company would have to make space for the store and new parking spaces by cutting down about 16,000 square feet of trees and fill in about 1,100 square feet of wetlands between the existing building and the Arnold fire station.

The company has applied to the state for a nontidal wetlands and waterways permit, which it must secure before it can build the store. Terrance W. Clark, chief of the nontidal wetlands and waterways division of the water management administration, is to make a decision by Sept. 4.

About 40 people crowded the hearing at the Severna Park branch of the county library to oppose Rite-Aid's plans.

Ben Hanna, a Cresston Road resident, was frustrated that Rite- Aid representatives could not estimate how much soil would be loosened by the removal of trees.

"My kids can't swim in the creek because if they do, they come up black," he said.

"There's this unknown that we don't know about, and it's going to end up in the creek."

Newton said the storm water control ponds could hold nearly 6 inches of rain an hour, more than twice the amount that tropical storm Bertha dumped on the area two weeks ago.

He also said that the silt fence would slow the amount of sediment that would make its way to Dividing Creek.

And Gary Alexander, an Annapolis lawyer for HPT, the company designing the store, noted that the plan under consideration is a revised version of one presented three weeks ago, sharply reducing the amount of wetlands and trees affected.

The original plan called for disturbing more than 4,000 squarefeet of wetlands and almost 32,000 square feet of trees.

"HPT is committed to making sure that this site is a good one," Alexander said.

"We're not going to please everyone, but we're trying very hard to come up with a site plan that will make it a good site."

Some in the audience remained unconvinced, calling the store unnecessary because there already are Rite-Aid stores in Arnold, Millersville, and Severna Park.

Pub Date: 7/24/96

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