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Bel Air

News Maryland Harford County Bel Air

Harford DAC reviews plans for housing, Ladew Gardens improvements

The members of Harford County's Development Advisory Committee reviewed a preliminary plan Wednesday to create 21 residential lots on land in Forest Hill.

The lots would be part of a 150.42-acre parcel north of West Jarrettsville Road and west of Bailey Road; the parcel is zoned for agricultural use. The Fallstaff Limited Partnership owns the land.

The land is also near a Colonial Pipeline storage facility, and part of an underground petroleum pipeline operated by the company is under a small section of the parcel.

An access road along the southern edge of the parcel serves as a route to the Colonial storage tanks, and the plan presented to members of DAC Wednesday shows six of the 21 lots are just north of the access road's 50-foot right of way.

The plans, developed by Wilson Deegan & Associates Inc., of Jarrettsville, also show the 13th lot in the northwest corner of the property, at the end of a residential drive.

Planners proposed putting the driveway across the underground route of the Colonial petroleum pipeline; Moe Davenport, chairman of the Development Advisory Committee, said the land over the pipeline must be developed in accordance with deed restrictions for the property.

Much of the property is within areas designated as a Natural Resource District by the Harford County zoning code, and DAC members spoke about efforts to protect the natural resources of the property.

Jennifer Wilson, representing the Department of Planning and Zoning on the committee, spoke about the need to preserve the parcel's natural features, such as forests, wetlands and streams; she noted waterways on the property drain into a local trout stream.

"We just want to make sure they're protected, and the plan indicates that for the most part," Davenport said after the meeting.

No members of the public made comments during the hearing on the plans Wednesday.

Ladew Gardens improvements

Fritz Behlen, senior associate with Site Resources Inc. of Phoenix in Baltimore County, presented plans to build a new two-story, 25,200-square-foot maintenance building with a parking area at Ladew Topiary Gardens in Monkton.

The plans also include reconfiguring the entrance and exit areas off of Route 146 (Jarrettsville Pike) into one location.

"Our goal is to separate vehicle and pedestrian movements that happen on the campus," Behlen explained.

Behlen said visitors to the 22-acre gardens, who are on foot, mingle with vehicle traffic on the grounds, including delivery and maintenance vehicles, tour buses and vehicles of people attending events such as weddings.

The gardens are part of a 200-acre estate purchased by Harvey S. Ladew in 1929. The gardens were opened to visitors in 1971, and Ladew Topiary Gardens Inc. operates and maintains the gardens and manor house, according to the Ladew website.

Behlen said planners propose to expand the parking lot and "create a better arrival zone for buses."

The new maintenance facility will replace an aging building on the campus. The combined exit and entrance would include a deceleration lane on Route 146 leading to the gate, designed to slow traffic while making the entrance more visible to motorists.

Kevin and Nancy Bultman, who live across Route 146 from the Ladew grounds, expressed concerns about losing part of their view of the Ladew landscape for an expanded parking lot.

"I'm concerned that I'm going to see even more asphalt," Nancy Bultman said.

The Bultmans are also worried about an increased level of traffic from vehicles entering and exiting in the same location, almost directly across the road from their home.

"From the state's perspective, the site's not going to generate any more traffic than it does now," Rich Zeller, who represents the State Highway Administration on the Committee, noted.

Behlen said landscaping proposed for the new lot would shade the concrete and asphalt.

"Sometimes, it's just a key placement of a tree here and there that makes the difference, also," he explained.

The Bultmans stressed they are not trying to impede the project.

"I think, in the end, it's going to look nice," Kevin Bultman said. "It's just a matter of coming on the same page."

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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