Board angers Iager critics

Plans for hearings in daytime provoke Fulton residents

`Tremendous burden'

July 26, 1999|By Jamal E. Watson | Jamal E. Watson,SUN STAFF

Fulton residents fighting a huge proposed development are angry that the Howard County Zoning Board has scheduled daytime public hearings on the plan -- a move they say will prevent many of them from participating.

During the past week, residents have bombarded board members with phone calls and e-mails urging them to reschedule three of the five hearings in September on Stewart G. Greenebaum's plan to develop the 507-acre Iager farm in Fulton.

Board members are scheduled to hear testimony from Greenebaum and the public from 10: 30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 8, 13 and 22. Two hearings, Sept. 1 and Sept. 22, will be at 7: 30 p.m., a time the board traditionally sets for public hearings.

"I don't see any good reason for scheduling some of these hearings during the daytime," said Peter G. Oswald, vice president of the Greater Beaufort Park Citizens Association.

"I think this is an attempt to keep large numbers of community residents who work during the daytime and who want to testify against the developer's project from attending."

One hearing had been scheduled last month on Greenebaum's plan to build 1,168 units of single-family houses, townhouses, condominiums, cottages and apartments, and office buildings. It was postponed because a number of Fulton residents had committed to attending a General Plan task force meeting on growth scheduled for the same night.

"We delayed the hearing for two months to accommodate the citizens," said Guy J. Guzzone, a North Laurel Democrat who serves on the zoning board. "I don't personally like holding hearings during the day, although in this case, we did give residents two months of notice."

Mary C. Lorsung, a Columbia Democrat and chairwoman of the zoning board, said that she has no plans to change the schedule.

"We need to go on with this case and get it heard," she said. "We really can't delay this any longer."

Lorsung said that the hearings would be videotaped, and plans are being made to broadcast them over cable television for residents who might not be able to attend.

But Harry Brodie, president of the Greater Beaufort Park Citizens Association, said that the process has been unfair almost from the beginning.

"We think that what they're doing is totally unrealistic," Brodie said. "This has gone beyond being fair. Their schedule has put a tremendous burden on the community who want to attend the hearing and make a statement."

For months, residents have been conducting a campaign against Greenebaum's ambitious plans to convert the turkey farm into a planned community.

Neighbors say that the developer's plan would overburden roads, especially because two other projects -- Cherrytree Park in Scaggsville and a Rouse Co. development in North Laurel -- are likely to be built three miles away.

Together, the three projects would add more than 2,500 residences in southeastern Howard over 10 years.

Greenebaum said that he is eager to move forward and is confident that his plan will be approved.

"We've been delayed repeatedly for one reason or the other," he said. "I know that the zoning board has set aside plenty of time for anyone who wants to testify. We want to make sure that everyone is heard, but we do not want to be unfairly delayed any longer."

Pub Date: 7/26/99

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