Peace breaks out at meeting on Patapsco greenway project

Speakers, others discuss heritage area plan civilly

July 15, 1999|By Alice Lukens | Alice Lukens,SUN STAFF

The citizens of Oella did it.

In sharp contrast to a chaotic Greater Oella Community Association meeting in May, residents of the historic mill town across the Patapsco River from Ellicott City managed last night to hold a civil information-gathering meeting about the proposed Patapsco Heritage Greenway.

Jay Patel, president of the community association, said at 9: 30 p.m. that no vote would be taken on whether to support the greenway until a future meeting, probably in late summer or the fall.

At the beginning of the meeting, Oella residents voted 46-32 to reject a meeting format suggested by the community association's board that would have given a greater voice to greenway supporters than to opponents. In the end, two people from each side gave a speech and then audience members asked questions.

John Slater, chairman of the Patapsco Heritage Greenway Committee, said his group wants to protect the historic, natural and cultural resources of the valley by turning it into a certified heritage area. He said that would make some residents eligible for tax breaks to promote heritage tourism and help revitalize the area.

Stephen M. Doyle, a St. Denis resident who vehemently opposes the proposed greenway project, called it a "commercial development tourism scheme" that would bring too many tourists to the region and imperil Patapsco Valley State Park and the peace and quiet of surrounding neighborhoods.

"The idea that economic development is a bad thing is frightening," Slater said.

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