Supporters say church will have little impact

Carroll Community Church plan draws opposition

August 27, 1999|By Laura Cadiz | Laura Cadiz,SUN STAFF

The community fight over a proposed "megachurch" on the Carroll-Baltimore County border continued yesterday at a Baltimore County hearing, as residents voiced concerns that the 2,000-member church would disrupt their quiet neighborhood.

Carroll Community Church, a nondenominational Christian congregation in Eldersburg, proposed last year to build a sanctuary and retreat on 65 acres at Route 91 and Mount Gilead Road.

But the plan has met with resistance from residents, who fear the development will bring traffic congestion and pollution.

On the second day of a hearing that began Aug. 4, the church's attorney, G. Scott Barhight, said the church's impact would be minimal. He said the church would not light its athletic field, would not offer commercial day care services and would allow only nonprofit organizations to use the church.

But residents insisted that a church of the proposed size would be the equivalent of putting a shopping mall in their community.

"I firmly believe that the scale and scope of the church is out of proportion with the community," Peggy H. Goodman, who lives on Mount Gilead Road, said during a break in the hearing. "This project dwarfs everything in our community."

Robert F. Bradley, president of Morris and Ritchie and Associates, which is working on civil engineering and land planning for the site, said the church would not cause much traffic congestion because the traffic peak would come on Sundays, when the road is not usually heavily traveled.

"This site has an advantage because it is located near a well-maintained state highway," he said.

Hearing officer Lawrence E. Schmidt, who is also the county's zoning commissioner, said he would make a decision within 15 days of the end of the hearing. Construction could begin in four or five years.

Large churches have sparked controversy in a number of counties.

On Wednesday, more than 200 people turned out for a meeting in Woodlawn on a proposal by Baltimore-based Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church for a 3,000-seat church in Granite. Residents in that area fear the effect on local roads and wells.

Pub Date: 8/27/99

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