For nearly two decades Robert Gorey has lived on Overbrook Road in Catonsville, and in that time he and neighbors have dealt with occasional flooding and sewer backups.
That’s a big reason why he and others sat in on a recent virtual conference held by the Baltimore County Department of Permits, Approvals and Inspections regarding a proposed project for 41 single-garage town house units to be built on a 6.68-acre wooded lot behind Ridgeway Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center at 5745 Edmondson Ave. The project by Baltimore County-based Gaylord Brooks Realty Co. would be less than a mile from Gorey’s Overbrook Road home.
“That site is elevated and it slumps down toward my property and Frederick Road,” said Gorey, who learned of the project from a neighbor about a month ago. “Frederick Road has had flooding issues and [had been] closed because of sinkholes.”
Darryl Putty, project manager for development management for PAI, handled the virtual presentation during which tentative plans were made for a community input meeting, although no date has been set. The next step in the process is to place a sign on the property to inform the community of the project.
The proposed site is immediately upstream of an active sanitary sewer overflow relief point, which routinely activates during heavy rainfall, according to the PAI Concept Plan Review. That has residents concerned.
The community has experienced sewage backups that have flooded homes in the area. In addition, two years ago, a rainstorm swept through the community, damaging businesses and nearby homes.
“In 2018, [the county] started a sewage project to alleviate problems in Academy Heights,” Gorey said. “There were a lot of problems with sewage backing up into [residents] basements.”
He said a sewer line runs across the Ridgeway Manor property and in front of his house.
“We do not want to see 41 more houses tied into the sewer line,” he said.
Until the downstream capacity problems are corrected by Baltimore City, additional flow that will worsen the condition of the active overflow relief points cannot be approved, according to the review.
Debra Wright, who also lives near the lot on Overbrook Road, agrees that the main concern for her and her neighbors is the possibility of the project leading to flooding, which she has experienced in the past.
“I have not talked to one person who is in favor of having a development smashed into a tiny postage stamp of a [lot],” she said. “[We’ve] all been through the flooding and all have had basement flooding.”
Besides flooding, she fears the project would bring more noise, pollution and traffic into the neighborhood, disrupting the quality of life.
Since learning of the project, she and her neighbors have met to discuss the project, have spread the word to those in the surrounding neighborhoods and have sent emails and letters to Councilman Tom Quirk.
Quirk did not respond to requests for comment.
Steve Smith, president of Gaylord Brooks Realty Co., said the company will adhere to all county and state regulations and that the project should have little impact on the surrounding area.
“We are at the very beginning of the development process and will be addressing county agency and community concerns along the way,” he wrote in an email. “We are more than willing to engage with community members to understand and work to address their concerns.”
Wright said she hopes the outcome of their efforts will result in a plan that better suits the desires of the community.
“Ideally, we would like the property owner and the developer to alter their plans into something that is more environmentally friendly and compatible with the existing infrastructure and will not tax the sewer and water system," she said. "A park would be nice, everybody wants the green space.”