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Proposed development draws many opponents to hearing

March 12, 2002|BY TARA REILLY

A proposed 270-residential unit development in the Marsh Pike area drew opposition from many of the approximately 230 people who packed a public hearing Monday night.

The Washington County Board of Commissioners and the Washington County Planning Commission held the hearing in a courtroom at the Washington County Courthouse.

As seats in the courtroom filled, residents crowded doorways and lined walls to listen to testimony on the proposal. Many of those who spoke live in the Foxleigh Meadows and Spring Valley development. They said if built, the development would worsen already severe traffic congestion in the neighborhood and overcrowd schools in the area, mainly Paramount Elementary School.

Others said the development would decrease the value of existing homes and that not enough specifics of the project have been disclosed.

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The development would consist of homes costing between $140,000 to more than $300,000

Paul Crampton Jr. has proposed the residential development on 97 acres just north of the intersection of Leitersburg Pike and Marsh Pike. Just over nine acres would be used for commercial development, where Leitersburg and Marsh pikes intersect.

The concept plan presented Monday night did not contain specifics about what would be built on the proposed commercial development. The development would be built over several years.

The development, which is being called Emerald Pointe, would include lots for 90 single-family homes, 88 townhouses and 92 duplexes. The size of the units would range from about 1,500 square feet to more than 3,000 square feet.

Crampton is president of Paul Crampton Contractors, which builds residential townhouses, single-family homes and apartments. He is the assistant mayor of Funkstown.

He's seeking a Planned Urban Development (PUD) zoning designation for the project. A PUD is a special zoning designation that allows higher-density development on property than would be allowed under the property's existing zoning. The land is currently zoned agricultural.

Crampton's attorney, Bill Young, said Emerald Pointe would be an upscale neighborhood for mainly young professionals and retired people. He said the young professionals probably wouldn't have children, which prompted laughs from the crowd.

During public comment, opposed residents said they didn't believe most of the families who moved into the development would not have kids.

"I don't know much about the percentages ... but I can tell you one thing," said John Hamburg of Donneybrook Pike. "When you develop homes, you're going to have kids."

Washington County Senior Planner Lisa Pietro said the homes would contain an estimated 19 elementary-aged children, nine middle school-aged children and 10 high school-aged.

She said, however, her estimate only included children who would live in the 88 townhomes, not the single-family homes or duplexes. She said children living in single-family homes and duplexes are exempt from calculations because the development would be in an urban growth area.

An urban growth area is a government-identified area in which development is encouraged.

Shelly Barr, who lives on Marsh Pike, said she feared that increased traffic from the develop would put her daughter in danger as she walked to and from school every day.

"How is that going to impact her?" Barr said while in tears. "Have you tried to get across that road? There's a crossing guard, and every morning she blows that whistle."

Resident Randy Cornelius said traffic from the proposed development would block up nearly the entire North End, including the already congested Eastern Boulevard and Maugans Avenue.

School bus driver Gerry Doyle, of Spring Creek Road, called current traffic conditions a "rat race" in the North End and said he often has to block the shoulder of the road when picking up and dropping off children so other cars don't try to pass the bus.

"If the project is a good project ... improve the traffic conditions," Doyle said. "I don't think it can be improved. It's a nightmare."

As of 9:45 p.m., three other items on the hearing's agenda had not been discussed. They were:

-- Manny Shaool's proposal to build 990 housing units on his land off Mount Aetna Road across from Black Rock Golf Course.

The proposed development on 221 acres would have 271 single-family homes, 70 semi-detached two-family homes, 223 townhouses and 480 condominium units. Some of the homes would be in a gated area.

A swimming pool, tennis courts, a golf practice area and a clubhouse are also proposed, according to the plan.

The proposed project would be in the county's urban growth area, which is a government-identified area in which development is encouraged.

The land is zoned agricultural, but Shaool is asking for a Planned Urban Development (PUD) zoning designation.

Funkstown officials sent a letter opposing the development, saying traffic would congest the small town.

-- Marsh Run Associates' request that 145.8 acres just east of Marsh Pike and just north of Donneybrook Drive be changed from agricultural to rural residential zoning.

Marsh Run Associates has submitted an application to the county for a nine-lot subdivision on 21 acres of the 145.8 acres to be called Glen Erin. A plan has not been submitted for the remaining acres.

-- A text change that creates new definitions and adds or deletes existing ones from the county's ordinance dealing with dog kennels, pet shops, farm animals, animal hospitals and acreage and setback requirements for each.

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