A community meeting about a contentious proposal to build an athletic facility in Fallston drew about 90 people Wednesday evening, filling the Fallston Volunteer Fire Company's banquet hall.
Most of the complaints were not about the facility itself, but whether the area can withstand the added traffic the fieldhouse would generate.
"I have nothing against the concept of a facility. My problem is with its location and the impact that will bring," Morita Bruce, a member of the Fallston Community Council and president of the land preservation group Friends of Harford, said.
Rob Wienhold of the Fallston Group, a consulting firm, told those at the meeting he became involved in the project at the beginning in this year after hearing of developer Mike Euler's earlier plan to build an RV park or storage facility on the property, off the 200 block of Mountain Road (Route 152).
Hearing that no one had reached out to Euler, Weinhold met with the developer and said "the concept of an athletic facility arose." To address interest in the project, Euler sought to hold a community meeting, Weinhold said.
"Mike felt it was a good idea to go ahead and have a community meeting tonight for a couple of reasons: No. 1 is to brief you on the status of the project and where it sits tonight, another would be to answer any questions you have about traffic and the site plan, and also make sure that this meeting was one of complete transparency," Weinhold said.
Euler then addressed the audience regarding the project.
"The area that we're talking about on this part of the property most people have never seen, unless you were invited on the property by the family members or perhaps just stumbled across it by accident because it really lies against the power line in an area that is completely surrounded by trees," Euler said.
"That's why I thought it would've made a great park for RVs, but the neighborhood kind of thought a little different," Euler added. "So we sat down with them; asked them, 'If you don't want that, what do you want, so I don't have to continue go through this.' "
Euler said he didn't even know there was a need for an athletic facility in Fallston.
"I'm not the most athletic person in the world, so I didn't even know that these kind of things were needed," Euler said. "Little did I know my daughter's going up to the Arena Club [in Churchville] for training that this facility could provide."
The vision for the facility would be for it to have a membership structure, with members able to hire coaches, and certain sports teams were already looking to rent the facility.
"There's nothing like this in the county, I'm not sure that Baltimore County has, with the exception of The Castle, a full indoor football field with a swimming pool on one end," Euler said, referring to the Baltimore Ravens facility. Euler added this all fits under the county's designated zoning of a country club.
Regarding his efforts to bring a grocery store to the nearby Aumar Village Shopping Center, Euler said negotiations are ongoing. Euler said he is proud of his work in the area he's lived within five miles of his entire life.
"I'm not trying to do anything that's adverse to what everybody wants to see as well," Euler added.
'Like a jigsaw puzzle'
Mitch Ensor from Bay State Land Services spoke about the site plan for the facility.
"In a workgroup session, we sat around and thought about what type of improvements we wanted to put together, and, basically like a jigsaw puzzle, put together what the land would support with what uses we were trying to propose and tried to work them in as harmoniously as we could with the property," Ensor said.
He noted the zoning of the property, that it would not impact wetlands or buffers and that it would result in a small amount of forest clearing, which they would be required to minimize by code. He also said improvements to the land would work with its existing slopes.
In regard to road accesses and how they would impact traffic, Ensor cautioned that it was very early in the process, and input from the county, traffic studies and the State Highway Administration would have a big impact.