Board of Appeals member Waff retiring as head of community association


January 28, 2000|By Lourdes Sullivan | Lourdes Sullivan,SUN STAFF

BILL WAFF, a member of the Howard County Board of Appeals, is retiring as president of the Savage Community Association.

He has held that post, he says, more often than not for the past 10 years. But after his appointment in June to the Board of Appeals, "You try to avoid conflict of interest," he said. The Board of Appeals makes decisions regarding land use.

The Waffs moved to Savage from Mississippi, where Bill was in the Coast Guard, in 1976. They had lived in Columbia and Bowie, and knew and liked the area.

Waff and his wife, Ellen, quickly became involved in Savage community life. They joined the community association, and a year later Bill was a member of the board.

The Savage Community Association keeps abreast of zoning and planning issues, informing the community and advocating that residents have a voice in decisions.

In Waff's 24 years as a community activist, he has seen enormous growth, he says, not so much in Savage as in the areas surrounding the town.

Two years after the Waffs arrived, they bought the Spence family's 105-year-old farmhouse on 6 acres at the top of a hill above fields. The Spences sold a portion of their land to the state, which built a segment of Route 32 on it. When the highway was built, the Waffs' house overlooked it. Now, with the passage of years, the trees have gotten taller and screen the Waffs' view of the road.

About 10 years ago, Waff says, he became involved in land issues and zoning matters beyond the scope of the Savage Community Association. He was treasurer of the Southern Howard Land Use Committee (SHLUC) and became active in formulating its policies. The group is now involved in a dispute over plans for the development of the Key property on Interstate 95, between Gorman and Whiskey Bottom roads.

"This may have more of an impact than all the other stuff," Waff said, referring to the impact of development on existing communities.

Waff is concerned that roads and schools will be in place before the proposed community is built.

"I was involved in that, trying to make sure that [the developers] followed all the regulations and to make sure the highways were in place. Right now, there's only scenic Gorman Road," he said.

Waff plans to continue to be a member of the Savage Community Association. Ellen Waff, a nurse at the Baltimore Birth Center, is running for re-election as the association's vice president.

But her husband's term is due to expire this month, and he won't be running.

For one thing, there's no time. Between his day job as a program planner for a government contractor and his new role on the Board of Appeals, he's devoting a great deal of his time to issues related to development.

Waff estimates that he spends 15 hours a week on land-use issues -- including attending two, three-hour board sessions per week, visiting sites, and reading proposals and other documents.

He enjoys being able to make a difference. "Land use and zoning are probably my second career," he said.

Looking back over his years as community association president, Waff sees a change in community spirit. Residents used to come to meetings to present a grievance. When things were going well, they often stayed home.

"It was nothing to be for, it was always against," Waff said. But now, there "seems a bit more interest in doing things for the community, in the community that was not really there five years ago," he added.

Waff credits this in part to events such as the Savage Fest, the annual community block party and fair, which Corinne Arnold, Myra Phelps and others have organized for the past 10 years.

Waff notes that more and younger community association members show up to plan events, such as the recent installation of the Christmas tree at Carroll Baldwin Hall.

"I've enjoyed working with everyone," he said. "I'm not dead. I'll be around."

After the storm

OK, so Mother Nature sneaked up on us this time. We were dreaming of a white Christmas, not Groundhog Day.

No matter. The snow was beautiful, and kids and adults so lucky enjoyed two days off from school and work. And there will be plenty of activities when the rhythms of ordinary life resume.

If the forced holiday had you sorting through attics and basements to clear out space and realizing how much stuff you've collected, why not donate the items to a good cause?

St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Fulton is collecting goods for its spring yard sale, to be held from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 6.

Church member Peggy Yaskovich says organizer Norman Oehlke will pick up large donations and store them in the church. Smaller items can be dropped off at the church, on Route 216 and Lime Kiln Road.

It's a good way to clear out attics, basements and family rooms while garnering a tax deduction.

Information: 301-725-0241.

The church is planning a concert by the Christian rock group Jordan Wade at 7 p.m. Feb 19. The event is free, but an offering will be taken. It promises to be a pleasant, inexpensive evening out.

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