Building freeze extension urged Some fear gridlock on Mountain Road

April 16, 1997|By Tom Pelton | Tom Pelton,SUN STAFF

It's a dead-end road with 28,000 cars a day jamming it so severely that the government imposed a freeze last year on construction of subdivisions for acres on either side of it.

But on May 8 -- when the moratorium expires -- developers will again have the green light to send bulldozers roaring down Mountain Road and to build homes on the peninsula from Woods Road to Gibson Island.

County Councilman Thomas Redmond said residents are so worried about gridlock that he will ask the council next Tuesday to extend the moratorium on subdivisions for a year.

Developers are protesting that the ban is hurting them financially while doing nothing to alleviate the traffic.

"Moratoriums are very unfair to the builders and landowners in the area, some of whom who have a lot of money invested in projects there. This could put people out of business," said Michael DeStefano, president of the Anne Arundel Chapter of the Homebuilders Association of Maryland.

Meanwhile, the county is studying whether it should build a controversial 2 1/2 -mile bypass that would run parallel to Mountain Road and relieve some of the congestion.

Redmond, a Democrat from Pasadena, argues that the county needs to hold development at bay for another year while it decides on the bypass.

"The road is just inadequate. At rush hour, it's horrendous. We have thousands of people on that peninsula, and there's only one way in and one way out," Redmond said.

An additional one-year freeze on subdivisions would also allow the county to study possible long-term measures to limit growth on the peninsula, Redmond said.

"We really need to limit the growth, slow it down and plan it so it won't be haphazard, as it has been in the past," he said.

The Mountain Road peninsula is not the hottest area for development in Anne Arundel County. The western part of the county and areas around Annapolis are booming.

But Pasadena, on the western end of the peninsula, is growing rapidly. And the 14,225 residents of the peninsula are worried that growth from Pasadena might spill over and worsen traffic problems, county officials said.

The county estimates that the number of households in the area might grow by 645 by 2020, said the county demographer, Sandy Speer.

One project delayed by the moratorium is the Saybrooke Woods subdivision, near Mountain Road and Hickory Point Road.

The developer, Cattail Associates of Severna Park, was planning to build 18 homes on 23 acres when the county imposed the ban on subdivisions last May, said Kent Stow, a principal of the company.

The delay is costing the company money, Stow said, and those costs will inflate home prices.

"When I spoke to Mr. Redmond about this moratorium, he emphasized that it would only be one year," Stow said.

"Now it's being dragged out to two years. And two years is looking to be the start of a pattern, with it possibly being dragged out indefinitely. That's not what we were told originally."

Pub Date: 4/16/97

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