Sykesville Town Council delays decision on Fairhaven proposal

Talks between residents, retirement home planned

April 27, 1999|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

After lengthy public debate, the Sykesville Town Council postponed action last night on a $3.5 million corporate headquarters that Fairhaven Retirement Community plans on the northern edge of town.

The 3-2 decision disappointed the nearly 50 residents who attended the session, who expected the council to vote on a petition that would change the zoning on the vacant 3 acres from residential to commercial.

"This postponement is obviously a delaying tactic," said Connie Higgins of Main Street. "All these people are taking the time to come here. You are abdicating your responsibility to us by not making a decision tonight."

The council said it will vote on the petition May 24. In the interim, Fairhaven representatives will discuss the proposal with residents.

"We will be meeting with residents to discuss in detail their concerns and any plans they have," said Amber Dahlgreen Curtis, attorney for Fairhaven, who requested the delay. "We want to continue to be good neighbors."

Mayor Jonathan Herman said he will attend Fairhaven's meeting. He called the discussion healthy and said it could lead to viable alternatives.

"This will give all a better understanding of all the ramifications of rezoning this property, so when we make a decision everyone will be clear," said Herman.

With commercial zoning, Fairhaven could proceed with plans to build the 23,000-square-foot complex across from its entrance on Third Avenue.

Kathleen Hider, a Hawk Ridge Lane resident, said the time for discussion with Fairhaven has long passed. She repeatedly stressed that the responsibility for rezoning rests with the council.

"Fairhaven should be removed from the picture," Hider said. "We came here to talk about rezoning with you, the council. The issue is not what Fairhaven builds, but the rezoning."

At the first hearing on the issue two weeks ago, residents said they were given little information on the project, which they said did not belong in a residential neighborhood. The council continued the hearing to last night.

"We could talk all day and it would be senseless," said Garth Adams of Third Avenue. "This issue is about the citizens and the council. We are asking you not to rezone this property. If you do, then we should talk to Fairhaven."

With 300 acres at its disposal, Fairhaven could find a less intrusive site, the residents said.

"Why squander one of the last, best open spaces we have and destroy a neighborhood that has stood for more than a century?" said Ted Campbell, whose Springfield Avenue property adjoins the site.

Residents asked several times during the 90-minute debate yesterday for Fairhaven to withdraw the petition, which Curtis said she was not authorized to do.

Episcopal Ministries to the Aging, Fairhaven's parent company, plans six cottagelike buildings, none higher than two stories, for 40 employees who now work at the Sykesville center.

"I know this delay seems difficult, but it is best to allow everything on the table," said Herman.

Pub Date: 4/27/99

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