Old quarry with a future Redevelopment: Plans are being drawn for 800 homes and a lake after the pit ceases operations at the end of the century.

December 18, 1998|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,SUN STAFF

Dump trucks rumble over the pitted landscape, and mining blasts shake the earth around the Greenspring Quarry just north of Baltimore. But developer Steven S. Koren envisions the day when the trucks are replaced by minivans in front of suburban homes, and when a 500-foot-deep quarry pit is transformed into a cold, sparkling lake.

Koren, president of Koren Development Co., is preparing plans to submit to Baltimore County officials early next year for a 300-acre development of homes, offices and stores surrounding what would become the deepest lake in Maryland.

He has been hired to develop the project by the Arundel Corp., which agreed 14 years ago to close the century-old quarry at the end of next year and begin reclaiming one of the largest undeveloped sites inside the Beltway.

"It's a wonderful site," said Koren. "It's a wonderful development."

Some residents worry that because the neighborhood has become more congested, the development will overburden schools and roads. But residents also look forward to the day when their homes no longer shake from the quarry blasts and the dump trucks no longer tear up the pavement on Greenspring Avenue.

"There's a big pit that has to be filled in, but we're also looking forward to it," said Phyllis Friedman, who is helping organize the Pikesville-Greenspring Community Coalition -- an association of community groups joining to monitor quarry development and other issues. "We think properly done, it can revitalize us."

Eventually, about 800 homes on lots ranging from a quarter-acre to an acre could be built on the site. Small businesses and possibly a 125-room inn might be built along the northern edge of the lake.

"It fits with the Smart Growth initiative," said Gary L. Kerns, chief of community and conservation planning with the Baltimore County Office of Planning. "It's an opportunity to provide a mixed-use development that will benefit the immediate area."

Among the amenities would be a 40-acre lake, once the quarry is filled with water. At about 500 feet, it would be the deepest lake in Maryland and one of the deepest in the country -- twice the depth of Lake Erie, according to William S. L. Banks, a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey.

The overflow from a nearby stream, ground water, rain and storm-water runoff would fill the quarry in several years to provide boating and fishing, Koren said.

Greenspring is one of two lakeside developments that Koren and Arundel are planning. The other is the Delight Quarry in Owings Mills, which already is filling with water as mining operations are phased out.

Preliminary plans for that 119-acre site call for a mix of housing, including apartments for the elderly, and offices and small businesses located around a lake.

Nearby residents have mixed feelings about the closing of the Greenspring Quarry, a fixture for more than a century.

"They haven't been a bad neighbor," Friedman said. "People have gotten used to it."

Quarries have existed on the site at least since 1877, said Johnny Johnsson, director of environmental affairs for Arundel Corp., a subsidiary of Florida Rock. Marble from the quarry can be found on the steps of Baltimore's rowhouses, he said.

In 1980, when Arundel and developer Shopco petitioned for a zoning change to develop the property, the community fought ** the plan. But after Arundel opened a bituminous asphalt plant and concrete mixing operation on the site, the community began to negotiate with the company to close the quarry altogether.

Under their agreement reached in 1984, the asphalt and concrete operations were stopped, and the quarry must be closed by Dec. 31, 1999.

In exchange, the community agreed to support the zoning changes that would allow redevelopment of the site to accommodate houses and businesses.

"We want to do a good job in the community," Johnsson said.

Still, some in the area remain wary.

"I think the project envisioned 15 years ago is hopelessly out of date," said Councilman Kevin B. Kamenetz, a Democrat who represents the Pikesville and Randallstown areas.

He said that if a vote were held, most residents would opt to keep the quarry open and forestall the development.

Such a vote is unlikely, however, because all the community representatives and individual property owners who signed the covenant in 1984 would have to approve any change to the agreement. As a result, the quarry is expected to close on schedule -- a relief to some neighbors.

"If the development is done in a proper manner, I think it might be a plus," said Elaine O'Mansky, who has lived near the quarry for 34 years.

O'Mansky said the community awaits detailed plans from the developer. She said that environmental issues, access, and changes to the Beltway interchange are questions in residents' minds. "There are a lot of factors that must be addressed," she said.

Pub Date: 12/18/98

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