Turf Valley expansion approved

Opponents say impact of 350 homes not properly studied

April 30, 2008|By June Arney | June Arney,sun reporter

The Howard County Planning Board approved last week the second amended final development plan for Turf Valley -- a step that clears the way for more than 350 additional homes to be built there.

Opponents of the project raised concerns about the quality of the documentation presented to the planning board and about the approval process itself.

"The plan was really not up to professional standards, and it had errors and omissions," said Marc Norman, who lives in Turf Valley and is a member of a residents' group called Responsible Growth In Our Neighborhood. "The board was voting on something that was incomplete and inaccurate, with staff basically saying, `We'll fix those things later on."'

Norman said the matter should have been tabled rather than proceeding to a vote, because two board members said they would like more information to make an informed decision.

Ultimately, nearby residents are worried about the impact of traffic on their community and say they do not think the county has adequately studied the matter.

"There's been no analysis whatsoever of traffic safety related to the 5,000 cars per day that this portion of the property will generate," Norman said.

Norman and others have been critical of the traffic plan around the proposed Lorien Nursing Home and Assisted Living Facility to be located at the western edge of Turf Valley.

That project, which could begin this year, is the first piece of the new Turf Valley development and would feature 62 nursing home beds and an additional 100 assisted living beds, on 6 acres on the east side of Marriottsville Road south of Interstate 70.

Overall, the 800-acre hotel and conference center in western Ellicott City is to include 1,618 condominiums, townhouses and single-family homes, plus commercial development.

Also last week, the Planning Board approved an amendment to a site development plan adjusting the height limit to allow a clock tower as a design feature at the proposed two-story Wegmans to be located at Snowden River Parkway and McGaw Road.

In February, the board approved a site plan, but withheld approval of a height waiver for a 92-foot-high clock tower at the store, because the site, which contains a 35-year-old warehouse, had not been posted with a public notice.

The 160,000-square-foot Wegmans, to be located opposite Apple Ford in east Columbia, would be nearly triple the size of most area supermarkets. A two-story garage is to be built on 12.2 acres at the southwest corner of the site with 939 parking spaces.

june.arney@baltsun.com

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