Zoning chief says he will seek alternative sites for 2 schools

July 25, 1996|By Howard Libit | Howard Libit,SUN STAFF

Howard County's planning and zoning chief told Glenelg area residents this week he would look for alternative sites for an elementary and middle school, but school officials still hope to build the schools on land near Triadelphia and Folly Quarter roads.

The pledge by Joseph W. Rutter Jr. came at a Monday night meeting between county and school officials and area residents, many of whom oppose the school system's plans to buy land owned by Howard Hunt Properties Inc. and used by Howard County Iron Bridge Hounds Inc.

The school board voted last month to take the property through eminent domain -- the first such action in school system history -- because negotiations between school officials and the owners have stalled over price. A trial in Howard County Circuit Court to decide whether the board can take the land and to determine a fair price was postponed last week until September.

The elementary school is scheduled to open in 1998 and the middle school in 2003.

The residents say they fear the schools would bring increased traffic to Folly Quarter Road and environmental problems. Residents also have said the school board failed to consider sites west of Route 32 where neighborhoods are not yet established.

But school board members say the 78-acre Howard Hunt property is ideal because it is at the junction of three elementary school districts and two middle school districts.

Rutter said he told the residents that his office will do "a very cursory search" for other parcels of land that meet the general characteristics required by the school system. But he said that the site selected by the school system meets all of his office's requirements and fits with the county's General Plan -- while building schools west of Route 32 would not.

If his office finds other potentially suitable sites, it would be up to the school system to decide whether to pursue them, Rutter said. School officials said they welcomed Rutter's help but predicted it would be futile.

Pub Date: 7/25/96

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