Retreat plan could endanger stream's trout DNR advises against Loyola College proposal

December 15, 1998|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,SUN STAFF

Neighbors angry about a Loyola College plan to build a religious retreat off Beckleysville Road have warned about storm water runoff, traffic and potential use of alcohol by people at the retreat center.

Now they might have trout to help their cause.

State Department of Natural Resources officials have advised against building on the site, saying the project could pose a threat to a small population of brook and brown trout that inhabit the Grave Run near the proposed conference center.

State biologists have known about trout in the stream for more than 20 years. The latest survey, taken in June 1997, turned up three adult trout and 11 young on a 465-foot stretch north of the development site.

A survey taken south of the proposed development this year found a few brown trout, according to Charles R. Gougeon, a biologist with the Maryland Fisheries Service, who concluded that Loyola College's retreat will have an impact on the stream.

In a letter addressed to Valleys Planning Council, an opponent of the project, Gougeon wrote: "We cannot forecast the ultimate impact before construction, only state that impact is imminent. It is therefore recommended that an alternate site be sought."

Gougeon's opinion doesn't prohibit the project, but he emphasized that if the retreat is built, Loyola will have to take steps to guarantee the protection of the trout stream.

"This is the time to get on board so people don't make egregious mistakes," he said.

Loyola officials said they had no comment on Gougeon's letter, but spokesman Mark Kelly said, "We remain committed to working with neighbors to resolve the issues."

Loyola is proposing to build a 20,000-square-foot conference center, 10 cabins of 2,000 square feet each and three gravel or grass parking lots on about 7 acres of a 101-acre tract in Upperco.

Loyola's plan was to have gone before a county zoning commissioner last month, but the hearing was postponed in order to address concerns about the protection of wetlands and forest buffers.

The plans are scheduled to be reviewed by county officials in a few weeks.

Loyola officials say they have been seeking a retreat site for nine years, and consider the northern Baltimore County property a quiet setting that is a convenient distance from the main campus in North Baltimore.

Pub Date: 12/15/98

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