Council OKs measures to ease traffic Pasadena's Redmond sponsor of measures to protect peninsulas

'Growth is uncontrolled'

Top Gary official wants anti-nepotism proposal killed

January 06, 1998|By Tom Pelton | Tom Pelton,SUN STAFF

The Anne Arundel County Council approved two measures last night to protect peninsulas from traffic jams caused by new development.

In another effort to ease congestion, the council received a report on a $11.9 million plan to build a bypass on the Mountain Road peninsula.

Last spring, the council removed from the construction budget the funds to build the roughly three-mile bypass that would run south of Mountain Road from Magothy Bridge Road to South Carolina Avenue.

Pasadena Councilman Thomas W. Redmond Sr. said last night that he is renewing efforts to have the bypass built by 2001.

County Executive John G. Gary said yesterday that the bypass proposal deserves at least to be studied.

The bypass would cut across 52 properties and would require the county to buy seven homes and build new driveways for 19 others, according to the study by John E. Harms Jr. and Associates engineering firm of Pasadena.

"We can't afford to let the traffic situation on Mountain Road get any worse," said Redmond, a Democrat. "If emergency equipment can't get through, we have a time bomb waiting to explode."

At the intersection with Route 100, traffic on dead-end Mountain Road, east of Pasadena, has soared to 30,000 vehicles a day from 19,400 vehicles a day in 1984, according to a county estimate.

The two ordinances to protect peninsulas, which the council passed unanimously last night, were introduced by Redmond.

The first ordinance places a one-year moratorium on residential subdivisions in the Mountain Road peninsula.

The county also banned subdivisions on the Mountain Road peninsula from 1984 to 1989, and again for a year starting in May 1996.

Soon after the council voted 4-3 to let the latter moratorium die last spring, a developer, Cattail Associates of Severna Park, applied to build 18 upscale houses on Mountain Road near Hickory Point Road.

One of the council members who changed her vote on the moratorium was Diane R. Evans, a Republican of Arnold, who said the report on the proposed Mountain Road bypass helped convince her that the county was making progress toward solving the problem.

The second ordinance, passed 7-0 by the council last night, requires developers who build on peninsulas to pay for additional studies to show that their projects would not cause undue traffic congestion.

The measure bars developers from building if the roads could not bear additional traffic.

"The traffic on Mountain Road is a joke, but it's not funny. The growth on the peninsula is just uncontrolled," Don Hillier, a representative of the Long Point Improvement Association, told the council. "I think that Mr. Redmond's bills are a step in the right direction."

In an unrelated matter, a top Gary administration official said last night he would try to kill an anti-nepotism bill aimed at Gary's wife, Ruthanne -- the county's director of community services -- by portraying it as an illegal attack on the rights of working people.

Councilman James "Ed" DeGrange of Glen Burnie introduced legislation last fall that would bar elected officials from supervising or hiring family members.

The legislation would require Mrs. Gary -- who is paid almost $70,000 a year by the county to notify neighborhood organizations about coming development proposals -- to leave office if her husband is re-elected in November.

County Attorney Philip Scheibe said he thought DeGrange's bill was illegal because it would strip merit-system employees, including Mrs. Gary, of job protections, specifically their right not to be fired without written justification.

DeGrange said the administration is not concerned with protecting the jobs of average county employees, only with trying to protect Mrs. Gary's.

"I think that elected officials should be held to a higher standard ,, of ethics and that they should not be hiring family members," DeGrange said before the meeting. "That can cause a conflict of interest."

Pub Date: 1/06/98

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