Residents say Manor Hill Brewing has brought increased traffic to quiet road

Residents say Manor Hill Brewing has brought increased traffic to quiet road

Tensions are rising between Manor Lane residents and the neighboring Manor Hill Brewing after the business opened its doors to customers on weekends, sparking traffic and safety concerns among those that live on the Ellictt City lane.

Some residents say Manor Lane has become a commercialized nightmare, with delivery trucks and visitor traffic speeding by homes, while owner Randy Marriner says he's operating within his permit regulations as a commercial brewery.

Sitting on 52 acres, Manor Hill Farm is designated as an active working farm in the Howard County Land Preservation Program. Randy and Mary Marriner, owners of Victoria Gastro Pub in Columbia, purchased the farm in 2011.

The Marriners received a Class A farm brewery license the following year after the license was created by changes in county legislation and existing zoning laws in 2013.

Through the county's Economic Development Authority's Catalyst Loan Program, the brewery received a $200,000 loan in 2014 to help launch the new business.

Randy Marriner said operations at Manor Hill Brewing began under their Farm Brewery Class 1A license in January 2015 after the launch of a pilot system inside a 7,200-square-foot barn; the brewery will eventually be able to produce 3,000 barrels a year.

"We're a manufacturer, a wholesaler and a retailer, all in accordance with Article 2B of the liquor laws of the state of Maryland and with my zoning regulations," Marriner said. "In January, after tremendous request from our customers, we started to open the brewery up for people to come see it and taste beers."

While the county's Department of Planning and Zoning permits the brewery to be open to the public 69 hours a week, Marriner said he chose to only open 20 hours total on Fridays through Sundays.

No more than 50 visitors are allowed at one time, he said, and a reservation system is in place, only allowing visitors a two-hour window on the premises.

But, increased traffic flow and safety concerns rests heavily on the minds of many residents, an area they once described as calm and serene. Residents have posted additional speeding signs, asking drivers to "slow down" and "drive like your kids live here," but have not had any success.

Sam Ellis, 40, said his family has lived in the same house on Manor Lane since 1951 when his grandparents first moved into the neighborhood. Years later, Ellis' mother and father took over the property, raising Ellis and his siblings in the family-friendly atmosphere.

"When I was a kid, I had a go-cart and I could ride up and down the street like I owned the place," Ellis said. "Back in those days, if three cars went by in the afternoon, you were wondering, 'Who's having a party? What's going on?' Now, it's literally hundreds of cars a day and it's just nonstop."

When the brewery isn't open to the public, Ellis said commercial trucks are driving to and from the brewery located at the end of the lane. Although the speed limit is designated as 30 miles per hour, he said the brewery has created speeding issues from both visitors and commercial trucks, making many uncomfortable.

"[My wife is] literally not comfortable to walk our dog anymore because of traffic increases," Ellis said. "She will not take the stroller out and push the baby up the street. That's the kind of thing we've been looking forward to with spring coming and decent weather."

Resident John Sindler, a commercial Realtor, said the brewery is an "abomination of our otherwise pleasant residential street."

Sindler explained that, like many, he bought his property because of its proximity to Columbia, but also its naturalistic qualities. While he doesn't want to prevent the Marriner's from making a living, Sindler said Manor Lane was not built for such commercialization, which should be conducted elsewhere.

"I spend at least 30 minutes a week, if not more, just standing there, telling people to slow down. People are just totally discourteous or inconsiderate that we live here," he said.

Marriner said he has received numerous complaints from neighbors via social media as well as recent visits from a zoning officer and Howard police about two weeks ago. According to Marriner, both the zoning and police officers agreed that he is abiding by the rules and regulations permitted in his application.

Marriner said he sat with the Police Department's district supervisor, Sgt. Alan Shaffer, for 45 minutes, watching for traffic violations.

"He said to me, 'These people are not speeding,'" Marriner said. "He said when you're standing on the side of the road and you're watching a car go by, they always appear to be going faster than they are."

Police Department spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn said Shaffer was unavailable to comment, but confirmed that Shaffer "did make area checks throughout the weekend and, during one check, stayed for an hour." Llewellyn said that Shaffer did not see any speeding or other violations.

Department of Planning and Zoning Deputy Director Amy Gowan said the criteria of the farm brewery permit does not address specific traffic studies or traffic regulation issues, but requires that the area has frontage on arterial or collector roads or certain local roads.

"Clearly, the permit anticipates that there would be that volume of traffic," Gowan said. "I think if they were having concerns about the speed of which people are accessing the operation, that's probably a conversation that we would have to engage some traffic engineers in public works."

Gowan said since Manor Lane is a public road, a study would incorporate road conditions and accident history. The brewery has a sign at the end of its driveway, reminding drivers of the 30-mile an hour speed limit.

"I've spent many millions of dollars creating beauty here," Marriner said. "I have raised the property value of every house on this road. We're trying to be responsible."

As for a resolution, Marriner said he simply doesn't know if one will be reached.

"Do I want to be a good neighbor? Of course. But I also have a business to run and the state created the opportunity for me to run this business," he said.

With complaints rising, residents are preparing a letter to the county, requesting immediate action to address speeding and overall safety.

"The purpose of the street, I feel, has changed," Ellis said. "It feels like an entrance to the brewery; it's not our neighborhood anymore. Who wants to raise their kids on an entrance to a bar?"

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