Har Sinai agrees to alter Worthington Valley proposal

Neighbors OK synagogue, school

day care dropped

March 01, 2000|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

Har Sinai officials reached a settlement with their neighbors yesterday that will allow the congregation to build a synagogue and school in the Worthington Valley, ending one of the Baltimore County's most heated development battles in recent years.

The congregation agreed to adhere to detailed landscaping, noise and lighting restrictions sought by the community and to kill plans for a commercial day care center, said J. Carroll Holzer, a lawyer for Har Sinai.

The congregation also will pay for an expert to monitor the cleanup of toxic chemicals on a portion of the 17-acre site and test wells of adjacent property owners concerned about their water supplies, he said.

In exchange, neighbors agreed to drop two suits filed in Baltimore County Circuit Court that sought to block the project and dismiss an administrative appeal.

"I'm very satisfied," said Sandy Elkin, spokeswoman for Worthington Preservation Group, a homeowners' association.

The settlement clears the way for the nation's oldest Reform Judaism congregation to build a 62,500-square-foot synagogue and school for 120 students at Greenspring and Walnut avenues. Har Sinai wants to move from Park Heights Avenue in Baltimore to the Worthington Valley to be closer to its members.

"We're ready to start work," Holzer said.

The agreement was reached yesterday afternoon as one of the suits filed by the community was scheduled to be heard before Circuit Judge Lawrence R. Daniels.

Lawyers for both sides had asked Daniels to postpone the hearing for another week to continue negotiations, but they emerged with the agreement after meeting for more than two hours in the judge's chambers.

Elkin said that the settlement achieves the community's overall goal -- minimizing the impact of the project in the rural conservation district.

The landscaping plan calls for rows of evergreens to be planted on the property to provide a screen for neighbors, she said. The lighting and noise plans will set specific limits on permissible light and sound levels.

Holzer said construction should begin this year after 2 acres of the former dump site are cleaned up.

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