Activist urges curb on building

Severn's Ridgeway area crowded, he tells officials

October 10, 1999|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

Two weeks before the County Council is set to debate a bill to extend public water and sewer in west Anne Arundel, opening the door for more development, a community leader is calling for a moratorium on building in the crowded neighborhood of Ridgeway along Telegraph Road in Severn.

Mike Shylanski, president of the Greater Severn Improvement Association, sent letters to County Executive Janet S. Owens, and County Councilmen Daniel E. Klosterman Jr. and Bill Burlison asking that the county consider turning away developers who want to build more homes in the intimate neighborhood.

Shylanski says growth needs to be curbed because schools are crowded and the neighborhood is under-served -- a fire station has long been promised but never delivered.

Ridgeway Elementary, a school that was completed in February with a capacity of 554 students, is overbooked. School officials estimate that 573 students are enrolled this year. The music room has already been sacrificed to create another classroom.

A short drive along Telegraph Road reveals signs enticing motorists to visit housing com- munities under construction, and developers are gobbling up small plots of land within older communities for development, says Shylanski.

And with the renovation of older schools topping the county executive's list of capital priorities, the fire station -- which has been recommended in four studies on west county fire service since 1967 -- seems even further from becoming a reality.

"Even if the ban were applied today, there would still be considerable building [now under way]," said Shylanski, who heads the umbrella neighborhood group and the Severn small area planning committee. "All these things continue to keep pressure on Ridgeway."

But other signs in west county seem to indicate that getting the County Council to pass a moratorium for one neighborhood would be a victory hard won. West county is the part of the county targeted for development.

On Oct. 18, the council is set to debate a change in the master plan for water and sewage systems to increase allowable limits of water and sewer usage. The plan is generally seen as a road map for new development in the county.

The proposal calls for a rerating of the Patuxent Wastewater Treatment Plant, which serves most of west Anne Arundel, to allow 1.5 million more gallons per day than current levels. Each million-gallon increase theoretically allows about 4,000 more homes to be built, county officials said.

And many west county residents want more development. Neighbors down the road in Odenton have been working on a plan to build a town center for about 30 years. With space in the other parts of the county nearly all used, the choice sites for new development are limited.

"Where else is there to build in this county?" said Klosterman, who represents part of Ridgeway in his district. "The question is how may subdivisions are already in the works and how many homes are there going to be?"

Officials from the county office of Planning and Code Enforcement are not sure of the answer to that question but they're working on it. According to Owens' spokesman Andrew C. Carpenter, the letter has been forwarded to PACE and officials should report back to Owens within two weeks. She would not comment on the letter until then, Carpenter said.

Burlison also reserved comment, saying he would like to talk with PACE officials and find out Owens' stance.

Klosterman said he would ask Shylanski to address his concerns before the council.

"Let's see what the circumstances are and let's see what it warrants," he said. "There are a lot of concerns. What we should look at first is how to solve the problems."

Pub Date: 10/10/99

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