Fallston residents concerned about traffic from proposed development

Harford Road between Belair and Mountain roads in Fallston is already one of the most heavily traveled stretches of highway in Harford County.

With nearly 70 additional houses being planned along the two-lane road, residents say they are concerned about the probable impact on the area's already bad traffic congestion.

About 30 people who attended Wednesday's Harford County Development Advisory Committee for a review of plans for a new housing development called Hamilton Reserve voiced their frustrations with more development in their community.

Hamilton Reserve, proposed for 28.5 acres on the south side of Harford Road west of Connolly Road, will have 69 single-family homes with two garage spaces per unit. The houses will be built on about 16 acres, with slightly open space reserved on more than 12 acres, with about 1.27 acres active open space. The site is currently tenant farmed.

What drew the most fire from residents Wednesday is the plan for just a single access to the community directly from Harford Road.

A traffic analysis of the area is under way, Amy Dipietro, a representative of Morris & Ritchie and Associates, the developer's engineer, noted.

Robert Seward, of the 2100 block of Harford Road, asked Rich Zeller, with the Maryland State Highway Administration, how people are going to easily make a left-hand turn into or out of the development during rush hour traffic. Harford Road (Route 147) is a state highway.

Zeller explained that the developer would have to widen the road to improve access, basically creating room for traffic to pass on the right when a vehicle is trying to turn left into the development from the southbound lane of Harford Road.

Beverly Carter, who also lives on the 2100 block of Harford Road, said she moved to Harford County originally to get away from crowded housing developments.

Carter she has had cars drive onto her lawn, knock down mailboxes and cause other property damage.

"People go too fast on Harford Road," she said. "They don't pay attention. We don't need more traffic on Harford Road. It's terrible."

DAC chairman Moe Davenport agreed with Carter on the traffic dangers.

"We obviously recognized the speeds are the issue there. People do not drive the speed limit there," Davenport said. "We recognize that, the SHA recognizes that. We'll do whatever we can do. We can't change people's character and driving habits."

Dave Williams, chairman of the Fallston Community Council, also spoke up on behalf of his community.

"I would expect that with the results of the traffic study the SHA will make or require appropriate safety improvements to Harford Road," Williams read from a statement he wrote and gave to the committee. "The community will be paying close attention to this concern."

Williams, who is also with the Harford Fire and EMS Association, said there are also concerns with how emergency services will be affected by the one entrance/exit.

"The design of 'exclusive' communities with only a single entrance/exit creates undue challenges and difficulties for emergency services, both in situations involving firefighting operations and evacuation scenarios," he continued. "A second means of ingress/egress, even if only for emergency needs, is highly recommended."

Virginia Sauers, who lives in the 1900 block of Harford Road, next to the Hamilton Reserve property, said it would be a "good use of that old farm to have some houses there instead" of expanding businesses.

To put 69 homes on almost 29 acres, however, is "absolutely unthinkable," added Sauers, who also called having one entrance to a heavily populated area "unthinkable."

Sauers asked DAC members to turn down the project "because there is a lot of work to do to prepare for that many houses." The panel, whose members are representing various county and state permitting agencies, doesn't have that kind of power, if the developer's plans meet all requisite legal requirements and regulations.

Sauers said when the county master plan was revised to include that area of Harford Road, she felt it had been done to "benefit the developers."

James Hauer, also of the 1900 block of Harford Road, said "Harford Road is a big problem" when it comes to traffic.

Frank Carter, another resident, commented on the pollution the passing vehicles cause and said many people living in houses along Harford Road don't open their windows "because of smog and pollution."

He added that the county should build another police precinct in Fallston "to help with the crime in that area," saying cars are stolen from dealership lots and drugs in the Fallston Crossing area.

Erica Wilson, of the 2100 block of Harford Road, suggested the county put a traffic circle at the intersection of Connolly and Harford roads or install speed bumps to control the traffic issue.

She said the rush hour during the school year has her sitting in her driveway for 20 minutes just to make a left-hand turn.

Wilson said she realizes the "homes are going to be built regardless of what is said," but "before you put something that is non-existent in that area [the development site], consider the impact it will have on the community."

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