Greenway proposal for Patapsco area draws angry crowd at Oella hearing

October 06, 1998|By Alice Lukens | Alice Lukens,SUN STAFF

A project to link the natural, cultural and historic resources of towns along the Patapsco River in Baltimore and Howard counties met a major roadblock last night at a community meeting when dozens of angry citizens voiced concern that the plan would ruin the resources it purports to protect.

About 100 citizens attended the Patapsco Heritage Greenway Committee's meeting at the Trolley Stop in Oella to hear urban planner Deana D. Rhodeside unveil proposals for a trail network that would link the communities of Catonsville, Ellicott City, Elkridge, Oella and Relay.

"I believe this plan is ridiculous," said Larry Meyer, an Ellicott City resident and an avid fly-fisherman. "It is a front by real estate agents to make some money on a natural resource."

Rhodeside, director of the landscape architecture and planning firm Rhodeside & Hartwell Inc. in Alexandria, Va., presented three plans , one showcasing natural areas, another focusing on historic attractions and the last centered on the riverside towns.

At the meeting -- the first of two public workshops -- Rhodeside said she wanted to hear from citizens before the firm draws up a more detailed plan for the second public workshop in November. A final plan is expected in the spring.

A number of citizens voiced concern that no study had been done to assess the environmental impact of any of the proposals.

Rhodeside said it was too early in the planning stages for such a study, but citizens questioned the feasibility of doing a full environmental impact study by spring.

"There's no way to avoid economic development," said Bob Cross, an Oella resident who said he is a Maryland National Guardsman. "But to do an environmental study is going to take a year."

Cross said he worries about ducks, geese, otters and other animals that call the Patapsco River home. After hearing the plans, he said he had more concerns.

He said Rhodeside overlooked the potential traffic problems, especially in Ellicott City, a hub in the plans. "You can't unload a truck there," Cross said. "I think some people are going to try to do it too fast, and it's going to become more of a mess."

Joseph Dominick of Relay said: "Environmental groups call it 'Paveway.' " Every time you create more flat top, it creates more runoff."

Rhodeside said her firm plans environmental studies.

Pub Date: 10/06/98

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