Howard Agrees To Help Pave Private Road

July 23, 2009|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,larry.carson@baltsun.com

Howard County is offering to improve an unpaved half-mile private road near Marriottsville if the 20 homeowners who use it agree to pay most of the cost.

After an inspection Wednesday with public works chief James Irvin, County Executive Ken Ulman told a group of residents the county would do what it can to help.

"Hopefully, we'll be able to work out a solution. We'll come up with a plan and we'll work hard to get it done this year," he said.

The county is offering a tar and chip paving job that would not bring the road up to county standards but would fill in ruts and then seal the surface for winter.

Though no hard cost estimate has been done, residents said they've been given $100,000 as a rough price. That would cost each homeowner $5,000, payable over 30 years on their property tax bills.

But Irvin said if the paperwork and legal hurdles can't be done in time to do the paving before September's lower temperatures and the start of leaves falling, it would have to wait until next spring."If it's next spring, we can do that," said Tom Collier, who with two neighbors maintains the road and plows snow in the winter.

His wife, Shirley, led a group of neighbors to Ulman's July 8 town hall forum in Ellicott City to ask for help. Their steep uphill drive was installed by a developer more than 30 years ago, but was never paved during a legal lapse in county subdivision regulations. They complain the road is now so rutted and slippery, particularly in winter, that it is a health and safety hazard.

The tar and chip job should help, Irvin said. "It would keep it from washing out and stabilize the ditches," he said.

He pointed out that the county offered a similar type of surface decades ago, but residents turned that down.

Now, several have said, they are desperate.

The ruts and ditches hold water and freeze for weeks at a time in winter. School buses won't use the road and residents fear emergency equipment would also have a difficult time.

Their development of custom homes on five-acre lots was built in the mid-1970s, during a period after a county judge declared newly adopted development regulations illegal because they were adopted by County Council resolution instead of as a bill. A number of rural driveways were installed before new legal regulations were approved that require paved roads to homes.

Officials have said there are dozens of such private drives, though few as long and hilly as the one off Henryton Road.

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