Opponents of Greenebaum proposal will get chance to testify on project

40 sign up to testify at hearing in response to developer's case

November 23, 1999|By Jamal E. Watson | Jamal E. Watson,SUN STAFF

After weeks of listening to a developer make his case for a large-scale project in Fulton, residents opposed to it are going on the attack in the latest phase of public hearings.

Tonight's hearing before the Howard County Zoning Board marks the opponents' first full-fledged assault on Stewart J. Greenebaum's proposal to build 1,168 residential units, 150,000 square feet of retail space and more than 1 million square feet of office space on a 507-acre turkey farm.

"We plan on bringing in our own expert witnesses to testify on the impact of this mixed-used project," said Peter G. Oswald, vice president of the Greater Beaufort Park Citizens Association. "When we get finished making our case, I am optimistic that the project is not going to move forward as it is now. I think that the Zoning Board will see some merit in our argument that the plan has to be modified."

Greenebaum remains confident after presenting his case the past two months.

"We gave compelling reasons for why this would be good for the county," he said. "This is really not a zoning case. This is a case for us to get approval on a piece of land that has already been zoned for mixed use. We're just looking to move forward."

Residents will aggressively lobby the Zoning Board to deny Greenebaum's proposal, saying roads would become burdened and nearby schools would become crowded if it is approved. Almost everyone involved in the case expects it to carry over into next year.

Last week, 10 residents testified before the Zoning Board, and 40 more have signed up, Oswald said, to oppose one of the largest developments proposed in Howard County since Columbia was created 32 years ago.

"These hearings are so important because this is the only crack that the Zoning Board has at slowing this project down," Oswald said, noting that residents were upset when the county Planning Board approved Greenebaum's preliminary plans last year.

"The Planning Board is just a rubber stamp for mixed-use developments," he said. "Hopefully, the Zoning Board's decision will be an unbiased one."

Harry Brodie, president of the Greater Beaufort Park residents' group, is to testify tonight about the impact that the development would have on the area's sewer capacity.

"The sewer system is already at overcapacity," said Brodie. "We're arguing that the present plan that Greenebaum has presented is not acceptable to us. It's too dense and is not compatible to the area."

Greenebaum disagreed.

"It's ironic because we came forward with an anti-sprawl development, and it's being fought tooth and nail by those who promote anti-sprawl as being a good thing, but they don't want this development in their back yard," he said.

Brodie said that if the plan is approved by Zoning Board, composed of members of the County Council, voters will remember it in the next election.

"When members were running for County Council, many of them said that they wanted to slow down growth in the county," said Brodie. "Well, this is an opportunity for them to live up to what they said."

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