Fallston residents wary of another commercial project on Route 1

Some Fallston residents said Tuesday they are concerned about the cumulative effect of development in the community during an informational meeting on a commercial project planned at the intersection of Route 1 at Milton Avenue.

The project would take up the 1.42-acre plot next to the Fallston Crossing community and across Route 1 from Royal Farms. The site has been vacant since an office building related to the former Fallston General Hospital was torn down over a decade ago. Fallston Crossing was developed on the former hospital site.

Three buildings are proposed on the Milton Avenue parcel, with the two closest to Route 1 being sold as restaurant space and one closer to West Grove Avenue being retail, Mitch Ensor, an engineer with Bay State Land Services, told the gathering at the Fallston Volunteer Fire Company station. About 25 people attended.

Some residents have been wary about plans by Aumar Village developer Michael Euler to build a fieldhouse near the corner of Route 152 and Route 147. Euler is also involved in the Milton Avenue property, he confirmed last week.

Ensor said he does not know what restaurants may go into the Milton Avenue site. "I am not aware of any specific users at this time," he said.

The site plan shows one 1,875-square-foot building and one 2,460-square-foot building, separated by a parking lot, facing Route 1.

The third building would have 3,600 square feet and back up to West Grove Avenue.

Kim Berger, who noted some of Euler's other projects in community, including a third commercial development planned at Route 1 and Old Joppa Road, asked what guarantee residents have that the traffic studies would take into account all three proposals, "seeing as how they are likely to take off soon."

"We all know these are coming now," Berger said.

A similar community meeting is scheduled at the same time and location on Wednesday night to explain the project at Route 1 and Old Joppa.

Ensor replied that a traffic study would take into account any proposed projects even if they have not been approved yet.

"This just seems like a lot of building for one piece of land. It might pass zoning but you are creating a lot of traffic," said Joyce Eaton, another resident.

Some at the meeting said Wendy's had been proposed for the site in the past and told Ensor they would prefer a "sit-down" restaurant to a fast-food one. Euler said last week the onetime deal for Wendy's fell through at the last minute.

Lighting is also an issue, as Eaton noted the residents longtime fight against overly bright lights at Jones Junction car dealerships farther east on Route.

"I think that should be a concern to this group also, is the lighting," she said.

Ensor said engineers are required to turn in a lighting code with "very little guidance" on how they should function or what effect they can have on surrounding properties.

Dudley Campbell, a principal in Bay State Land Services, urged the residents to take their criticisms to the county at upcoming development advisory committee meetings.

Campbell said he cannot believe, for example, that the county tells developers how much parking they can have.

"It's bizarre," he said.

"You've got to put the pressure on your county council and, more importantly, the representatives from county government," Campbell told the group.

Other residents said they are concerned about fast-food restaurants generating too much trash and smell, as well as customers who sit and eat their food on nearby neighborhood streets.

Maria Gangler suggested putting a doctor's office on the property instead so it would not affect the rush-hour traffic and, she added sarcastically, "you still use your land because every land has to be built upon."

Elyse Levy, meanwhile, said: "Why don't you just put a bank there?"

Janet Forrester asked if the developer could have a more porous parking lot, similar to what was required for the new CVS at Routes 152 and 1 in Aumar Village.

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