Builder's plan to fill in part of stream OK'd

Neighbors fear runoff, flooding from proposed 26-home subdivision

August 26, 1999|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Sun Staff

State environmental officials have given the go-ahead for a developer to fill in part of a stream to build a 36-home subdivision in Linthicum, a project opposed by area residents worried about flooding and erosion.

Nearby homeowners blame storm-water runoff from surrounding developments for soggy lawns and flooded basements.

They argue that the proposed Andover Estates project -- on a steep, narrow piece of land between Kingwood and Kingbrook roads -- would make their problems worse.

"I can't understand why anyone would even think of approving it," said Georgianna Fletcher, 75, who has lived in her Hammonds Ferry Road home since 1952.

Cattail Associates of Severna Park received approval this month from the Maryland Department of the Environment to build an "instream" storm-water management pond.

The project involves filling in part of the Kingwood Road tributary, which runs across the 10-acre Andover Estates parcel.

More than 150 homeowners in the Kingwood Road area signed a petition opposing the proposed subdivision. They hired a lawyer to monitor the environmental permit process and invited elected representatives and environmental officials to tour the property last month. Residents were thrilled when it rained during the event.

"It was a perfect storm, and they could see environmentally what the problems were," said County Councilwoman Pamela G. Beidle, a Democrat who represents the area. "I thought they'd rule differently."

Beidle said she has asked Del. Mary Ann Love, a Democrat who heads the county's legislative delegation, to look into whether state open space funds are available to buy the Andover Estates property.

"Our concern is that homeowners will suffer damage from additional houses being built, and when you take down trees and underbrush it will exacerbate the problem," she said.

Terry Clark, chief of the Nontidal Wetlands and Waterways Division of the Maryland Department of the Environment, said the storm-water management pond would ease flooding by containing runoff and directing it to the Kingwood Road tributary, according to a written summary of the Andover Estates decision.

In his ruling approving the developer's request, Clark wrote that the stream flow was interrupted by an earlier development and that the pond will have minimal effect on aquatic life.

"Although the residents remain skeptical, the project will result in a net benefit in relation to the flooding problems," Clark wrote.

Residents outlined the reasons for their skepticism in dozens of letters to Clark, detailing flooding problems during storms. They wrote of spending thousands of dollars to replace saturated carpets and sunken decks.

"Until 1993, we had no problems with our cellar or drainage on the property," longtime resident Fletcher wrote in her letter to Clark. "However, after all the building on Kingwood Road and additional building on Kingbrook Road we started to have water leakage in our finished basement."

Fletcher said she and her husband bought waterproofing materials and sump pumps.

Thomas A. Deming, an attorney hired by the residents, said he was "surprised and disappointed" by Clark's ruling. He said he had assumed that Clark would wait for the results of a ground-water survey before approving the disturbance of the waterway.

At the residents' urging, Deming said, county zoning officials agreed to ask the developer's engineer to do a geological study of the Andover Estates property to determine whether the development would create settlement or drainage problems for new or existing homes.

"It's not clear to us that the study would have any effect on any nontidal wetlands permit," said John Morris, a county public works spokesman.

He said the study is optional and that the county requires the developer to do soil borings to measure water tables. Also, storm-water runoff from a new development is not permitted to exceed the runoff that already flows from a site.

Morris said the developer has told the county that he will try to address some of the flooding problems.

Pub Date: 8/26/99

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