Community leaders react to plans for MedStar facility in Bel Air

Steve Tobia, with the Bel Air South Foundation, said people with the community organization don't know "too much" about the proposed Medstar project so far.

Speaking for himself and not the foundation, however, Tobia feels "some growth is good, as long as it's responsible growth."

Comparing Medstar to a big box store like Walmart, he continued, is a "huge difference" in drawing in traffic and in square footage.

"I'm not nearly as opposed to a Medstar," he said. The community, Tobia continued, was under the impression that when the parcel of land that Walmart is proposing to build on was zoned B3 for business "everyone thought that it would be shops and different things like that" and not a larger business like Walmart.

Tobia has heard that Medstar will bring in roughly 750 cars per day to the business — nowhere near the 10,000 cars that Walmart could draw, which is also proposed to be open 24 hours, seven days a week.

"If [business hours] are over the course of 10 hours a day, adding 75 cars an hour, or about one car per minute, that doesn't seem to be too significant to me," Tobia said about traffic trouble in the area.

Tobia recognizes that there are different camps of people — those who want to continue developing and those who don't want any — but "there has to be a middle of he road," he said. "Either side can't go without concessions. Smart growth is the thing, whatever that might be."

Councilman Jim McMahan said it was "too early for me to give any comments."

He did not know the project had been made public until reading an article in The Aegis Wednesday.

McMahan said he knows the project is in the development envelope and that a plan was submitted to the planning and zoning department, but he has not seen it yet.

He hasn't heard any comments from constituents at all and does not know how the community will react to the project.

"Time will tell, I suppose," he said.

"Regardless of what goes there," McMahan said, "I'm always concerned about safety issues [in] regard to traffic."

 "You always have to look at safety issues and how it's going to affect the community. That's paramount."

"I will certainly be looking into it as it develops," McMahan noted.

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