Harford reviews plans for community college, Joppa projects

Residents of the Gunpowder Pointe subdivision in the Joppa area, who were under the impression they had a say in how a parcel abutting their community could be developed, received a rude awakening this year when meeting with developers who are seeking Harford County approval to build 66 townhouses at Pulaski Highway and Enfield Road.

Gene Simmers, a resident of Gunpowder Pointe, who has served on the community's Homeowners' Association, brought that issue up before a meeting of the county's Development Advisory Committee Thursday.

"We were told that, before anything could be developed there we had to agree on it," Simmers said during the meeting.

He said residents had been told during a Feb. 25 Community Input Meeting the agreement was "null and void" – Simmers' words – because of the presence of the Chesapeake Science and Security Corridor.

The CSSC was formed in 2005 to foster cooperation among eight jurisdictions in northwestern Maryland – including Baltimore City and Baltimore, Cecil and Harford counties – northern Delaware and southeastern Pennsylvania to ensure the BRAC process involving Aberdeen Proving Ground would proceed smoothly and promote economic development among all parties.

Coscan Maryland LLC, owner of the roughly 4.5-acre site, is working with engineering firm Morris & Ritchie Associates of Abingdon to build the townhouse community Joppa Crossing.

Attorney Joseph Snee, of Bel Air, representing the developer, told residents during the Feb. 25 community meeting that the CSSC is "encouraged to revitalize and redevelop" the Route 40 corridor in Harford County, and the parcel along Pulaski Highway, where Joppa Crossing would be built, is part of that redevelopment corridor, according to a transcript of the meeting.

The parcel is zoned B3 for business. Ed Schwartz, of the Gunpowder Pointe HOA, asked James Keefer, an MRA civil engineer working on the project, during the community meeting if the "exceptions" in the Gunpowder Pointe resident covenants applied to Joppa Crossing.

Keefer said they did not, because the zoning allows for the project as it is proposed.

"The community wasn't aware that their input wasn't going to be required and I think that upset a lot of us," Simmers said Thursday.

Simmers protested the move at Wednesday's DAC meeting. He said Thursday Gunpowder Pointe residents had been able to stop a previous building project on the parcel proposed by their community's developer.

"I'm not aware of the agreement," DAC Chairman Moe Davenport told Simmers. "You're agreement's not with the county."

Davenport, however, encouraged Simmers to produce a copy of the agreement.

College study

Larry Banks, who grew up on Thomas Run Road across from Harford Community College, attended Wednesday's meeting to learn more about the college's plan to build its Nursing and Allied Health building on land which abuts his family's property.

Banks lives in Sykesville in Carroll County, but he and other family members still own the acre and a half which will eventually have the Nursing and Allied Health and Towson Building – also known as the 2 + 2 building – towering over it.

The two buildings, which will house all of HCC's nursing programs and allow Harford County students to take Towson University classes, respectively, are part of the college's effort to expand its Bel Air-area campus west across Thomas Run.

The nursing building will be three stories and comprise 54,000 square feet.

"With the Allied Health building and the 2+2 building, we were concerned about, number 1, the traffic issue there on the highway," Banks said Thursday.

Banks raised the traffic issue during the DAC meeting.

"The more you do, the worse it's going to get, just like anywhere else," he said of traffic.

Harford County officials have put forth a master plan for development along Thomas Run Road, which could include widening the road around the college campus.

Banks said Thursday he and his family have been working to sell the property, and he came with his aunt, Thelma B. Lester, to learn more about HCC's plans.

"Anything they do, any kind of construction in the future, has some kind of impact one way or the other," he said.

Davenport said the DAC must still review the required Traffic Impact Analysis for the project before making a recommendation.

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