Councilwoman criticizes road project

Proposed parkway rerouted to accommodate developer, Samoracjzyk charges

May 26, 1999|By Matthew Mosk | Matthew Mosk,SUN STAFF

Planners rerouted and widened a proposed parkway in Annapolis to accommodate a commercial development, an Anne Arundel Council member said yesterday as she fought to kill the road project.

"I want the decisions about road alignment to be made in the long-term best interests of the existing businesses and residents, not for the long-term benefit of a single property owner at the detriment of everyone else," said Councilwoman Barbara D. Samoracjzyk.

Samoracjzyk said the county's plans to extend Admiral Cochran Drive were altered after a Washington developer purchased land near the proposed road and applied to have it rezoned.

The new route for the extension -- which differs from the recommendation of a county-hired consultant -- clears a path for the builder to win rezoning and construct a three-building office complex, she said.

County officials disputed that, saying the road was realigned because of environmental and traffic-flow concerns. A representative of the developer, Bernstein and Co., could not be reached.

Samoracjzyk's concerns, raised at a council work session, have clouded the already-contentious question of whether to spend $1.8 million to build a half-mile, five-lane artery linking the traffic-swollen business district around Riva Road to nearby Route 2.

Residents of Gingerville Manor Estates have urged the county to spare them the road, which they fear would bring noise into their back yards and place a new commercial complex next to their quiet neighborhood.

"We are not anti-growth," said Mary Lynn Elsmo, vice president of the Gingerville Woods Homeowners Association and a 12-year resident. "We are for smart, responsible growth. Putting a road through here isn't smart or responsible."

Area businesses, several of which are planning major expansions, disagree. They want the road to thin routine rush-hour traffic jams.

County Executive Janet S. Owens has gotten behind the road extension, saying it is the best kind of county project, one that would help high-tech businesses expand in a well-developed area. She and other officials were quick to dispute Samoracjzyk's suggestion that the parkway plan was redrawn to suit a developer.

"Mrs. Owens has no idea what Mrs. Samoracjzyk is talking about," said Andy Carpenter, an Owens spokesman.

"She believes that the road plan was altered to move the road farther from the Gingerville community and to lessen its environmental impact," Carpenter said.

The county's engineers, who designed the final road plans, bristled at the suggestion that they were influenced by something other than public interest. John Morris, a spokesman at the county planning office, said shifting the road east was a minor adjustment made so that Admiral Cochran Drive would be the primary road leaving the area around Annapolis Science Park.

The council appears to be divided on whether the road is a sound idea, and several members said they were further confused by the objections Samoracjzyk raised. They are feeling pressure to ease traffic in an area that is home to several of the county's largest and fastest-growing companies.

"The sad thing is, we have only two days to sort this all out," said Daniel E. Klosterman Jr., the council chairman. The council is bound to finish and vote on the county budget, including road projects, tomorrow.

"The issue with the Bernstein property has clouded matters, but ultimately it's got to come down to what's best for the county as a whole," he said.

Pub Date: 5/26/99

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