St. Timothy's School neighbors can speak out on development Hearing is tonight on plan for 75 acres in Balto. Co.

August 15, 1996|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,SUN STAFF

St. Timothy's School and its neighbors -- opponents over a development proposal for 75 verdant acres of its Greenspring Valley campus -- will have a chance to air their views at a hearing there tonight.

Officials at the girls' boarding and day school in Stevenson say they want to sell the land as part of long-range plans to maximize assets and ensure its future into the next century.

But valley residents -- especially neighbors -- say the proposal is ill-conceived and damaging to them and the 114-year-old school.

Since St. Timothy's intent was announced last winter, residents of the affluent community have met several times with school officials. Several property owners and the community association have hired a lawyer and a land-use planner, RSA Associates, that "tried to broker a better design," said the firm's Ellie Vernon.

In response to community concerns, the school altered its proposal submitted to the Baltimore County Planning Board for the development to be known as Bridle Ridge.

"But in our opinion, the response has not been adequate or sufficient," said the lawyer, Steve Nolan.

St. Timothy's headmistress, Deborah M. Cook, disagrees.

"I truly feel that our community has listened very carefully to our neighbors," she said. "I also know when we listened to one particular constituency, they wanted one thing, and as we listened to another, they wanted something else.

"I believe there's a significant difference in the plan today," Cook said.

The revised proposal has 63 homesites, rather than 64, clustered in cul-de-sacs rather than spread out along a road that would cut back in an L-shape from Greenspring Avenue north of Woodvalley Drive, she pointed out. The houses also begin farther back from Greenspring than originally planned, she said.

Vernon acknowledged that the view from Greenspring will be improved and that "it's a much more interesting arrangement of houses."

"But it's quite discouraging," she said, "that the school could not find another way to make money."

Neighbors' concerns include the density of the development, increased traffic, the impact on public school enrollments and property values, and possible dislocation of the Irvine Nature Center on St. Timothy's campus.

"I think they could get as much out of half the density and not do the damage to the community and themselves," said John Beckley, spokesman for the community coalition. "We feel that their development is rather insensitive. It's going to, we feel, change the character of the neighborhood."

Cook would not say how much money the school hopes to make but argued that fewer homes on larger lots, as neighbors suggest, would not bring the desired amount.

Proceeds are earmarked for the school's endowment fund. Although St. Timothy's has an endowment of $6.6 million, other private schools on the East Coast with which it competes for students have much more, she said.

Interest from endowment funds allows a school to award more scholarships and financial aid, and undertake new projects.

St. Timothy's expects to have 110 high school students in September -- about 80 of them boarders. The school, which can accommodate 112 boarders and 143 students in all, uses about 60 of its 234 acres that stretch along and west from Greenspring.

The community input meeting -- required by the county -- is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the Hannah Moore Auditorium. Another will be held Aug. 29 if the countydeems it necessary.

Pub Date: 8/15/96

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