Panel OKs plans to raze church -- over some objections

March 27, 1997|By Shanon D. Murray | Shanon D. Murray,SUN STAFF

The Howard County Board of Appeals has approved plans to raze a 76-year-old Elkridge church and build a larger one -- over objections from some residents and church members.

The new St. Stephen's African Methodist Episcopal Church, on a 1-acre Mayfield Avenue site, will feature a child day care center and community center.

At least two residents expressed opposition to the proposal before the appeals board. One feared the expanded church would block access to two acres of land he owns. Another doesn't want the old church building to be demolished. The board voted its approval Tuesday night.

"I just can't see this church being torn down," said Sadie Anderson, 74, a church member all her life. "My parents attended that church."

Church members have owned the land since 1874, constructing a church there in 1892. The current church building was built in 1921.

The Rev. Alicia D. Byrd, St. Stephen's pastor, said the building needs to be expanded to accommodate a growing congregation of about 100 people.

The church will lease adjacent county-owned land for parking spaces.

The second speaker against the project -- Roland Howard, who owns two acres of nearby land with a log cabin that is listed on the Maryland Inventory of Historical Properties -- said he never intended to stop the expansion, but just wanted assurances that he would have access to his land, which is behind the church.

He said he is confident an arrangement will be worked out with the church or the county.

Two years ago, Howard petitioned the county to give an appropriate name to the long, winding, private dirt driveway that stretches from Mayfield Avenue to his family's homestead. The road was named Homeplace Lane -- in honor of the log cabin that was home to three generations of Howard's family. Harriet Tubman is known to have stopped at the cabin near Deep Run stream, while helping more than 300 blacks escape slavery on the Underground Railroad.

Pub Date: 3/27/97

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