Group to fight planned homes

Residents to attend zoning board hearing to oppose developer

Proposal for mixed-use

June 20, 1999|By Jamal E. Watson | Jamal E. Watson,SUN STAFF

A group of Highland and Clarksville residents has joined in opposition to a developer's plan to convert a rural turkey farm in Fulton into one of the largest mixed-use communities in Howard County since the founding of Columbia three decades ago.

These residents have joined forces with the Greater Beaufort Park Citizens Association to fight developer Stewart G. Greenebaum's proposal to create a Columbia-style village of homes, offices and retail stores. Many of the residents will appear Wednesday night at a Howard County Zoning Board hearing where Greenebaum will present his plans.

"We want to show solidarity and financial support" against the proposal, said Jeffrey Slayton, a Clarksville resident who lives in the recently built Ashleigh Knolls development, three miles west of Greenebaum's proposed site. "We were a little bit ignorant of what was going on because our neighborhood doesn't directly abut the site -- but we're getting people fired up," he said.

Unlike some Fulton residents who are worried about traffic congestion if Greenebaum's development is built, Slayton said that many of his Clarksville neighbors are concerned about the potential crowding of nearby Fulton Elementary school. "That's the hot-button issue here," Slayton said. "The more people we have standing up and being counted, the more the politicians will take notice."

For more than a year, Fulton residents have argued that if Greenebaum gets approval from the Zoning Board to develop the 507-acre farm onced owned by the Iager family into a community of 1,168 units of single-family houses, townhouses, condominiums, cottages, apartments and office buildings, the rural Fulton community will disappear.

John Adolphsen, a member of the citizens' association, moved to the area 32 years ago and is troubled by Greenebaum's proposal.

"When I came out here, there were just farms and residences," Adolphsen said. "I can't say that things won't grow, but I would like to see some order. We're just trying to make sure that the development is going to be compatible with the surrounding area."

A group of grass-roots activists has been circulating fliers and letters, attempting to raise funds and support to fight the plans of the well-financed developer.

They'll make the case before the Zoning Board that the implementation of Greenebaum's plan would negatively affect roads, including Route 216 and U.S. 29, and overload a school system that is already overburdened.

"The interest and the concern over the proposed development is increasing," said John Breitenberg, a spokesman for the citizens' association who has been helping the community mount its opposition to the proposal.

"The community is becoming aware of the impact that this development would have on their way of life and are willing to take an active role," Breitenberg said.

In an interview last week, Greenebaum defended his proposal, saying he has attempted to negotiate with residents in good faith. Talks broke down two weeks ago.

"No matter what we do or say, there are some people who want a turkey farm," he said. "And that doesn't mean that they're bad people, it just makes them at odds with good planning."

Greenebaum said he will argue that his plans follow the guidelines of the 1990 General Plan, which identified the land that he hopes to develop as appropriate for mixed-use zoning. He said concerns about traffic would be alleviated because residents would be able to walk to work.

"This is going to be a place where people can live, shop and work. People will be able to walk down the street and say hello to their neighbors sitting on their porches," he added.

He also said that at least 50 of the houses in the development would be marketed as "moderate-priced housing."

"This is something that I really wanted to do," Greenebaum said. "Our police officers and teachers have every right to live in the same community, and we have no intentions of isolating anyone. We're just trying to do the right thing."

It's possible the zoning hearing could be postponed. Community members have said they will attend the hearing and request that the board delay it because of a General Plan Task Force meeting the same night.

Mary C. Lorsung, chairwoman of the Zoning Board, has said she has no intention of postponing the hearing, but members may vote for a delay.

Pub Date: 6/20/99

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