Joppa Royal Farms renovation

Royal Farms plans to renovate and revamp its store on Route 152 in Joppa, to include moving the existing fuel service system to a different part of the property. (MATT BUTTON | AEGIS STAFF, Patuxent Homestead / November 27, 2013)

Plans for two commercial development projects in Joppa and Fallston that have raised previous concerns in their respective communities were reviewed by Harford County and state agencies last week, while a proposal for more houses in Abingdon is likewise raising hackles in that community.

Royal Farms is proceeding with its plan to renovate and revamp its convenience store and gas station at Franklinville Road and Route 152 (Mountain Road) in Joppa, a project that has raised environmental protection worries.

The prospect of shops and more fast food outlets planned for a busy Fallston intersection has renewed concerns about traffic safety in the heavily congested Route 1 corridor.

And, the likelihood of more traffic to come from more houses in a heavily developed residential area, near the county's Abingdon Water Treatment Plant, drew fire from neighboring residents.

Joppa Royal Farms

Speaking during a review by the Harford County Development Advisory Committee in Bel Air on Nov. 20, Morita Bruce, of the Friends of Harford organization — a local environmental and land use advocacy group — said she is concerned about an increase in the amount of underground fuel storage on the Royal Farms property and the plan to move the tanks and piping to the northern side of the property, closer to neighboring homes, which are on well water.

"I believe that these changes pose an unacceptable risk to the nearby homeowners," Bruce said.

Amy DiPietro of Morris & Ritchie Associates Inc., the engineering firm which developed the Royal Farms plans, explained why the canopy covering the gas pumps, as well and the underground fuel storage tanks and the dispensers themselves, would be moved to the northern portion of the property, behind the convenience store. The existing fuel area is in front of the store on the 1.69-acre property.

DiPietro said separating the convenience store and gas customers could "alleviate a lot of the existing site circulation issues."

Bruce asked committee members to "impose some conditions" before the plan is approved, such as requiring monitoring wells every 10 feet along the northern border of the site to detect any leaks and contamination heading toward nearby homes.

The store is in an area not served by public water and sewer, but the Joppa Royal Farms predates a county law that bans any new gasoline sales facilities in areas not served by public water.

During a public input meeting on the Royal Farms proposal held in Abingdon in October, Jeff Bainbridge, a Royal Farms representative, said existing underground tanks will be removed and the new fuel dispensing system will have the latest technology such as double-walled tanks, a monitoring system and sumps, according to a written report of the meeting prepared by the applicant and submitted to the county.

The report also states two people attended what was described as an "informal" session and one asked if a traffic light would be installed at the Route 152 and Franklinville intersection; DiPietro said there would be no traffic light.

Bainbridge, according to the report, said the store would be closed for approximately six months during the reconstruction, which the company expects to start in the fall of 2014.

Milton Avenue plans

The Development Advisory Committee also reviewed plans for a retail store and two restaurants on 1.42 acres zoned B3 at the three-way intersection of Route 1 (Belair Road) and Milton Avenue in Fallston.

The site, bordered by Route 1, Milton Avenue and West Grove Avenue, was once home to an office building that was demolished in the early 2000s.

Milton Avenue LLC, listed as the developer and contract purchaser, is also seeking county approval to subdivide the property into three lots, one for each business.

"We wanted to be here today to express the significant concerns that we have about the traffic patterns that will result from this development," said Jamison White, vice president of the neighboring Fallston Crossing subdivision.

White was one of four people who live in Fallston Crossing — a community adjacent to the property slated for development and also served by Milton Avenue — who expressed their concerns about the proposal.