Historic landmark nearing a new life

Renewal: Despite some concerns, plans for Graystone Lodge move forward.

May 09, 2004|By Lane Harvey Brown | Lane Harvey Brown,SUN STAFF

The Graystone Lodge, a proposed restaurant in an 18th- century Harford tavern and lodge on Belair Road, was reviewed by the county's development advisory committee last week and is moving forward, with some traffic and water-quality issues to resolve.

Several community members spoke in favor of the restaurant, which owners Steve and Anna Marie Bavett of Baldwin hope to model after the Milton Inn in Baltimore County and Union Hotel in Cecil County.

"We are very much for it," said Patricia Dallam, who lives in Joppa, adding that the project would help preserve the rural character of the Belair Road entry into Bel Air in a "beautiful fashion."

Joan Morrissey Ward, former county planner and Bel Air commissioner, said she hoped the Planning and Zoning Department would work with other agencies to be flexible in their requirements and put their support behind the plan.

"I think we should be bending over backward, doing everything we can when someone's doing something this special," she said.

The lodge sits in front of a piece of parkland the county purchased several years ago for nearly half a million dollars, beside a planned gas station and convenience store - and across the street from a proposed fast-food restaurant.

Neighbors have raised concerns to the County Council and planning department that the convenience store and fast-food shop will overtax the area, at the T-intersection of Old Joppa and Belair roads.

The state has said that unless a big-box retailer locates to adjacent property, no traffic light at the intersection is warranted, said Graystone project manager Robert D. Capalongo of Whitney, Bailey, Cox & Magnani LLC.

Capalongo said the restaurant has been scaled down from about 120 seats to 87, to accommodate traffic and parking concerns. The state and county are awaiting the results of a traffic study and might require the owners to widen Belair Road in front of the property to accommodate left turns into the parking lot.

The site plan leaves buffers between the parking area and Winters Run, he said. Runoff from the parking lot will be captured in an underground vault and treated using either sand or a compost mixture to filter out solids and toxins.

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