Neighbors critical of drug center plan Henryton Hospital project sparks fears

October 10, 1997|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

Residents of Howard and Carroll counties last night peppered state officials and administrators of a nonprofit organization with charges of poor planning in the effort to turn an abandoned hospital near Marriottsville into a drug-treatment center.

Last night's meeting was supposed to be a round-table discussion between the charity and local residents concerned about public safety and the possibility of declining property values.

But after a 40-minute presentation by Owings Mills-based Harvest International, the nonprofit organization, a panel of residents criticized the organization's planning and proposal, eliciting applause from many of the 60 residents who attended the meeting at Springfield Hospital Center.

"I expected it to be more in-depth, more panel-like." said aid Anthony Cirri, 38, of Carroll County. "It just turned into a fight between Harvest and the local community."

At a Sept. 29 meeting in Ellicott City, administrators from Harvest International agreed to defer until Wednesday implementation of the lease the nonprofit organization signed last month with the state.

Despite local outcry, Harvest plans to develop the 50-acre campus of Henryton Hospital in Carroll County, eventually turning the decaying buildings into a complex offering a variety of services, such as drug treatment and counseling the homeless.

Samson Doolin, director of Harvest International, said last night that he plans to move ahead with the project while consulting with state and local leaders during the next several days.

"Unless something comes out of this meeting, we're going forward," Doolin said two hours into the forum. "We believe in the merits of this project."

The next steps involve getting approval from the Carroll county planning and zoning board.

Many of the 14 residents on the panel had a different view, however. They voiced concerns about the safety of children in the Howard County neighborhoods near the site, about property values and about the possibility of the state locating juvenile sex offenders there.

They also criticized Harvest for not creating a detailed plan or providing enough information.

"Anyone who's read this proposal knows it has more holes than the Titanic," said Thom McKee, 41, of Marriottsville in Howard.

Pub Date: 10/10/97

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