Neighbors again assail St. Timothy plan 150 come out to oppose sale of Greenspring Valley land

August 30, 1996|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,SUN STAFF

Charging that St. Timothy's School is ruining the Greenspring Valley, neighbors of the all-girls' school in Stevenson voiced outrage again last night over plans to sell 75 acres of the rolling campus for a residential development.

About 150 residents of Greenspring Valley attended the second community input meeting in two weeks on the proposed development of 63 single-family homes, which would cut an L-shaped swath through the school's 234 acres that ramble along Greenspring Avenue north of The Beltway.

"This is a huge, horrible mess," said Kitty Miton, who lives north of the proposed development and "won't have to look at it. Sixty-three houses is outrageous. I can understand half that."

The 114-year-old girls' boarding and day school has been at odds with its neighbors since last winter when it unveiled plans to sell the property to increase the school's endowment. Residents of the area of sprawling lots and old homes charge that the school is not considering the community's wishes and is forging ahead with an ill-conceived plan that will hurt the school and neighborhood.

"We've worked 30 years to minimize development," said Aurelia Bolton, who lives directly across Greenspring from the school. "We don't want the school to ruin the Valley. It is a crime for St. Timothy's to be fouling the nest, and in such a way."

Neighbors' concerns include the density of the development, the anticipated increase in traffic, the effect on the area's water supply, the impact on public school enrollments and property values and the possible dislocation of the Irvine Nature Center, which is on school property.

"We feel there are better ways," said Bolton. "There are people that believe in St. Timothy's, that believe in this neighborhood, [people] with deep pockets who want to see St. Timothy's survive," she said.

Scott Barhight, an attorney representing the school who conducted last night's county-mandated meeting, said the school had considered other uses for the property and concluded that residential development was the best.

St. Timothy's did, in fact, change its original plan after several informal meetings with community residents, said headmistress Deborah Cook.

The revised proposal discussed last night has 63 homesites rather than the original 64, and they are arranged differently. Set farther back from Greenspring Avenue than the original sites, many are clustered in cul-de-sacs rather than spread out along the development's main road. Several of the larger lots stretch farther into the woods than originally planned.

St. Timothy's now has a year to alter its proposal, if it wishes, and submit a development plan to Baltimore County. After that plan is presented, a county hearing examiner will have 15 days to hold a hearing and then rule on it. That decision can be appealed.

Although no zoning changes are necessary, the county still must approve the development plan. David Flowers, a county planning board employee assigned to the project, dashed some residents' hopes early on. "Those of you who want to see it go away, that won't happen. The property owner has a right to develop property," he said.

The project's opponents have suggested that the school could realize the same profit from the land by selling larger lots at higher prices. This would be less disruptive to the scenery and wildlife, while preserving the openness of the community, they say.

Pub Date: 8/30/96

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