Hampstead council to hear developer's road plans Closure is sought for Shiloh Ave. section

fire official is opposed

August 07, 1996|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

For the second time in a month, Hampstead officials are set to hear a developer's proposal to close a street as part of his planned 289-unit Westwood Park community -- a move the town's Fire Department says would slow emergency response times.

The Town Council, which will hear the plans tonight, postponed a decision on the proposed closure of Shiloh Avenue after the president of the Hampstead Volunteer Fire Department objected at last month's council meeting.

Westwood Park developer Steve Walton wants to close an approximately 300-foot portion of Shiloh Avenue and to extend Willow Street, making it the main collector road in the planned community of single-family homes and condominiums between Shiloh and Houcksville roads.

Robert Rill, president of the Hampstead Volunteer Fire Department, said the Shiloh Avenue closure would slow the department's response to emergencies in the area.

"When you're driving a fire engine, you'll have to slow down for a sharp curve and another stop sign," Rill said. "No one has proved to us that the realignment is better than the existing road."

As far back as 1990, when planning for Westwood Park began, county traffic planners had recommended that the development include the extension of Willow Street. They say the extension and closing of Shiloh Avenue would improve traffic flow and eliminate the possibility of a dangerous five-way intersection.

"The [modified] intersection was set up to best accommodate what was projected to be the major traffic movement through that area," said Ron Church, manager of the engineering review division in the county Department of Public Works.

"Once completed, Willow Street will become a collector road between Route 482 and Houcksville Road," Church said.

At the request of Hampstead officials, county traffic planners reviewed Walton's Shiloh Avenue plan and found that it meets design and safety criteria.

In response to Rill's concerns, Church estimated that the road modifications would add about 100 feet of roadway.

"The layout of the roads will be safe and functional," Church said. "Whether or not 100 feet is going to cause a significant degrading of response time, I'd leave it up to the Fire Department to make that judgment."

Other proposed road improvements and major road alterations prompted by the Westwood Park development include the addition of turn lanes at two intersections: Route 30 and Houcksville Road, and Panther Drive and Route 482.

A traffic consulting firm hired by the town has recommended the addition of left-turn lanes on Route 30 and the widening of Houcksville Road to provide an eastbound right-turn lane.

Chris Letnaunchyn, a county transportation planner who reviewed the consultant's study, said the county supports the recommendations, although it is unclear whether sufficient rights of way exist to make the alterations.

"The intersection is operating at a poor or failing level," Letnaunchyn said. "At this point, anything that can be done to increase traffic flow and reduce congestion would be very good."

The traffic consultant also recommended that the Panther Drive approach to Route 482 be widened to include right- and left-turn lanes to accommodate the additional traffic that would be generated by the Westwood Park subdivision.

The proposed development comes before the Hampstead Planning and Zoning Commission on Aug. 26 for final approval. It is the first residential development to be governed by the town's adequate-facilities law, which was passed by the council in November, said town manager Neil Ridgely.

The legislation establishes criteria to ensure that town and county services -- including roads, schools, police protection, wells and waste treatment facilities -- can support a new subdivision.

The law also requires the town to post signs to notify the community of significant planning and zoning commission hearings related to a subdivision.

"We want the people in the area to know what's going on, instead of waking up one morning and hearing bulldozers," Ridgely said.

Pub Date: 8/07/96

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