Housing might replace Arundel bus depot

Some in Eastport fear added residents, traffic

April 01, 2004|By Jason Song | Jason Song,SUN STAFF

Replacing a noisy bus company with quiet homes seems like an obvious solution to a neighborhood headache.

But moving Lonergan Charter Service out of the 1100 block of Boucher Ave. in Eastport is proving to be as disruptive as the constant rumble of buses going through the neighborhood on the western edge of Annapolis.

John Lonergan Sr., owner of the company and its nearly 3-acre lot -- one of the biggest developable properties in the city -- is trying to sell the property and move his 40-bus company to Millersville. Diane Box Basheer Communities, a company based in Vienna, Va., has an option to buy the property.

Basheer officials, though eager to proceed, say the property must be rezoned to allow 40 homes instead of 24 for the project to be profitable.

"It's not going to happen otherwise," Dory Winkelman, a senior vice president with the company, said during a recent public meeting.

Some residents and elected officials worry that 40 homes would lead to crowding and traffic problems that could be as bad as the buses.

"I don't want to get rid of one problem only to replace it with another," said Alderman Josh Cohen, who represents the area next to the bus depot.

Basheer officials did not return telephone calls, but they have said at public meetings that they want to build 32 townhouses and eight single-family homes. Two of the townhouses would be priced for lower-income families, Basheer has said.

Basheer officials have refused to divulge the prices for the lot or for the homes.

Some residents next to the bus depot say the development is fine with them. "Anything to get rid of the nightmare," said Mary Ellen Dial, who lives across the street.

Dial said she wasn't aware of how big a problem the buses would be when she bought her home in 1998. She said she would accept anything "short of a Wal-Mart" to see the bus company leave.

Alderman Cynthia Abney Carter, who represents the area that includes the bus depot, said she will sponsor legislation supporting the rezoning because the project would include lower-income housing.

"I appreciate the concern here, but we have to learn to give a little and make a sacrifice for those less fortunate than we are," she said.

Others are less willing to compromise and fear that a rezoned development would bring too many residents and too much traffic to the area.

"I would love to see the bus station go; I just want to make sure the project is done right," said Bill Williams, who lives in the 200 block of President St., around the corner from the proposed project.

Cohen said the development company might be bluffing when it threatens to pull out of the project unless the property is rezoned.

"Developers often put forth a Plan A when in fact they have a Plan B and a Plan C," he said.

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