New post office site ends long battle in community Facility won't need access from residential street

March 11, 1997|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,SUN STAFF

The postal service has chosen a site for the Eldersburg-Sykesville post office south of Progress Way off Route 32, bringing a happy ending to a long-standing battle with residents and county officials over the location of the new facility.

Initially, the post office had chosen a site in Eldersburg Business Center north of the present site and planned to have customers and mail trucks enter the site from a residential street rather than the road designed to serve the center.

Now, it will be built on a 4.6-acre plot in the business center south of Progress Way -- the road that serves the center -- and will be entered from that road, Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, a 6th District Republican, told a group of South Carroll residents yesterday at the public library in Westminster.

Construction of the $3 million, 22,000-square-foot facility will begin this summer.

The earlier site was opposed by residents and county planners because it was to have been entered from a residential street.

When the county Board of Zoning Appeals sought to restrict the entrance to the service road, the postal service balked, noting that local government legally has no say in a federal matter.

"But with the post office, things always work out well," Bartlett said yesterday. "We have a brand new site."

Residents and members of the county's Annapolis delegation asked Bartlett to intervene when postal and county officials appeared to be at an impasse.

Yesterday's resolution "is better than we could have hoped for," said Roberta Windham, a nearby resident who had helped lead a protest against the original site.

The postal service had given up access to the residential street in an earlier meeting led by Bartlett, Windham said, "but the congressman continued to work behind the scenes" to get the new location.

Bartlett played down his role, saying the dispute was not that at all, but a misunderstanding.

"When you get people of good will to sit down together and start talking, you often find out they are not that far apart," he said. "This is a classic example of what cooperation and a can-do attitude can achieve."

The plan for building on the new site is nearly identical to the old one and the county has agreed to accept the earlier submissions rather than ask the postal service to go through the review process again, Bartlett said.

That caused some residents to worry about whether they would have a say on issues such as "low-impact lighting." Bartlett soothed those worries by asking postal officials to share its plans with a representative of the community.

"This points out what we [in South Carroll] are asking for" from the county in development issues, said activist Michael Fairbank. "If [citizen participation] had been there from the start, we wouldn't have gone through all this."

Pub Date: 3/11/97

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