Project's rejection is upheld Zoning appeals board says 250 rental units would strain services

'Negative impact' noted

Developer won't say if he would appeal panel's decision

April 11, 1997|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

Carroll County's Board of Zoning Appeals yesterday upheld the planning commission's rejection of a developer's plans to build 250-plus rental units in South Carroll because the project would strain inadequate schools, roads and emergency services.

The three-man board voted unanimously against Security Development Corp. of Howard County, which wants to complete construction of its Carrolltowne subdivision after almost 25 years. Its proposal calls for 254 rental units on 20 acres at Ridge Road and Kali Drive in Eldersburg.

Officials and attorneys for Security declined to say whether they would appeal yesterday's decision. The project has bounced between the county Planning and Zoning Commission and the appeals board for nearly two years.

In September, Carroll County Circuit Court said the appeals board must rule on a March 1996 planning commission decision that denied the project because of crowded schools and roads and a technicality in the original building plans.

"I was just happy with the decision," Dan Hughes, founder of Solutions for a Better South Carroll, said yesterday. "I think for once it reflected the reality of the community, in that the facilities are inadequate."

Unable to reach a decision after a March 25 hearing, the appeals board was scheduled to debate and decide the matter yesterday morning at Carroll County Agricultural Center in Westminster. After an hourlong closed session with the board's attorney, Chairman James L. Schumacher quickly signaled the direction in which he and the other members were leaning.

Schumacher, citing previous testimony about inadequate emergency and other services in South Carroll, said, "It's amazing to me that the project ever got to us. The facilities are pretty bad. I think the situation with the roads in particular is downright terrible. The schools, the fire facilities and others are inadequate."

The board members also emphasized testimony that elementary schools are strained, despite the scheduled opening of a school in 1998, while Liberty High School's enrollment is nearing 128 percent capacity for 1997 -- with no plans for a new high school into the year 2000.

"The project will have a negative impact on the community around it," Schumacher said flatly, "and I for one am not happy with a subdivision proceeding this far."

Board member Karl V. Reichlin said, "The agreement was made many, many years ago, 1972 or 1975, to approve the overall concept [with the planning commission], and they approved it. If the developer crossed all the T's, dotted all the I's, then they should be able to build it: That's the essence of the agreement.

"But a lot has crossed under the bridge from 1975 to now," he added. "If they would ever get the adequate facilities lined up, then they would be entitled to go ahead and do it."

Alternate board member Ronald F. Hoff said, "I have great concern about the intersection, the traffic problems it's going to create; the situation with the schools, with major problems down the road -- and the 11- to 15-percent delayed response [by emergency services] is not something that should be overlooked. That is not going to be an easy area to get through at rush hour."

Residents of the proposed units would use Kali Drive to Ridge Road to access Liberty Road.

But the Ridge and Liberty roads intersection has a received a poor rating (a D on a scale from A to F) from the State Highway Administration because of the volume of traffic.

Schumacher disagreed with Reichlin on the project's history, saying, "There is no commitment and [there] is no promise. The planning commission noted to the developer that he would have to come back for subdivision approval, site plan -- and facilities."

Pub Date: 4/11/97

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.