Engineers and consultants for the city's Department of Public Works say a subdivision in Northwest Baltimore can be built without harming the Gwynns Falls if changes are made in drainage plans.
That finding puts members of the Hillsdale Heights Neighborhood Association one step closer to extending Hillsdale Road and constructing 23 homes, with an average cost of $230,000.
Gary Cole, a city planner, said public works engineers and a consultant agree that a sanitary line necessary for the proposed development meets city requirements. But in findings released last week, "DPW and the consultant recommend that a separate line be provided to handle storm water runoff that emptied directly into the Gwynns Falls, as opposed to going to the combined sewer outfall," Cole said.
Residents of Dickeyville, who have opposed the project, argue that the proposed subdivision would be too dense, worsening pollution problems, destroying trees and blocking the views from their homes. The subdivision would be built atop a hill overlooking the Gwynns Falls and some Dickeyville homes.
The Gwynns Falls separates Dickeyville and Hillsdale Heights, which dates to 1955.
Members of the Hillsdale Heights Neighborhood Association bought the land for the proposed development for $260,000 from Helen S. Mendelsohn. But after a 3 1/2 -hour meeting in September, the city Planning Commission voted to defer action on the final development plan.
Cole could not say when the planning commission will reconsider the proposal. He said residents would have their engineers "work on a solution to their storm water that's acceptable to DPW, and to present that information to Dickeyville."
Vera Hall, a former city councilwoman and association president, said the association has told its engineers to work with the city to reach a remedy. "Hopefully, the next step for Dickeyville will be for them to schedule a meeting with DPW, and DPW will bring in their consultants to explain their findings with respect to the Hillsdale project," Cole said.
Feather Davis, who lives in Dickeyville, a former mill town that was built along the Gwynns Falls in the 18th century, has researched the project and found a 1965 plat, that she said includes two parcels on the project site which are marked to be conveyed to the mayor and City Council.
She is awaiting an answer from City Solicitor Thurman W. Zollicoffer Jr. on whether the land belongs to the city. Zollicoffer said yesterday that officials are "looking to respond."
Davis said City Councilwoman Rochelle "Rikki" Spector, in a Nov. 9 letter to Zollicoffer's office, asked whether the property had been transferred to the city and whether the 1965 plat is binding.
Hall and other Hillsdale Heights residents say Davis' research is faulty and is intended solely to thwart the project.
"I think they're just grasping at straws," said Winfield Willis, vice president of the Hillsdale Heights Neighborhood Association. "We have a legal right to build."