More houses being planned along Connolly Road in Fallston, near the Humane Society of Harford County, are raising concerns among people already living in the area about increased traffic and flooding.
Members of Harford County's Development Advisory Committee recently reviewed plans to create 12 residential lots within 71.13 acres in the 2200 block of Connolly, across from the Humane Society's property.
With the Humane Society planning to build a new, larger animal shelter, the prospect for even more traffic on a narrow, winding two-lane road, that is already used as a cut-through between Route 1 and Harford roads and Route 152, was raised during the DAC meeting on Dec. 18.
The developers of what has been named Connolly Farms must make "frontage improvements" to Connolly Road, such as addressing drainage issues along the shoulder, said Mike Rist, who represents the Department of Public Works on the committee.
"They're obligated for what they own on Connolly Road, to do some frontage improvements," DAC Chairman Moe Davenport explained.
Neighbors, however, said they are concerned about the development's impact on traffic on Connolly well beyond the immediate frontage, especially in light of proposed improvements to the Humane Society facility.
"With the additional traffic from this and the Humane Society, I have to sit at the end of my lane and wait for 10 cars before I can even get out on Connolly Road and that's now on my way to work," said Betsy Smith, whose family owns Bond's Forest, the farm that the 12 new lots will border – with a 50-foot buffer between them. Bond's Forest owns and boards horses.
Smith also expressed concerns about flooding at the bottom of Connolly, where it crosses a local creek, Elbow Brook or Branch, a tributary of Winters Run.
"We put cones out [when it rains] because you can't drive through," she said of the flooding. "The creek is over the road."
Davenport said the developers are obligated to build storm water management facilities to current standards, as well as meet standards for road and home construction and road frontage improvements along Connolly.
"Looking at Connolly Road globally, the county will evaluate that as it goes along," he said.
Deigert Trust development
The development property is owned by the Joseph D. Deigert Marital Trust Under Will, and was once part of a tract owned by the Benson family of Harford County during the 1700s and 1800s, according to a neighbor of the site, who attended the DAC meeting. Prior to his death, Mr. Deigert developed scores of residential lots on agricultural properties around Fallston.
Four lots, including one occupied by the Fox family's home, have already been created, but the other three have not been built on, representatives of the developer noted.
The preliminary plan created through Wilson Deegan & Associates Inc. of Fallston includes revisions to the four existing lots, which are accessed by a driveway off Connolly, and the 12 new lots on which homes would be built along the existing driveway that runs parallel to Route 152.
The land is zoned agricultural and the 12 additional lots would be developed using "conservation standards," said Bob Wilson, president of Wilson Deegan, who presented the preliminary plans.
The existing four lots would be developed using conventional standards, Wilson continued.
Conservation Development Standards allow for housing development in agricultural and rural residential zones, according to the Department of Planning and Zoning's website.
Lots must be .75 to two acres, on a parcel that is 35 acres, at minimum. The density of one lot per every 10 acres for an agricultural zone and one lot per two acres for a rural residential zone is the same as under conventional development standards.
Len Walinski, a committee member representing the Harford County Health Department, noted there is a minimum size of 10,000 square feet on each lot for a septic reserve area.
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The 12 new lots will be served by septic – the area does not have public water and sewer, and health officials are seeking detailed plans from the developer regarding the installation of force pumps for the septic sites and the "setbacks" between the wells and septic areas.
"We have a lot of work yet on this," Walinski said. "This is not real quick and easy, like a typical house."
Developers have proposed naming the access road for the 12 lots Bakers Crossing Court, but DAC member Robin Wales of the Department of Emergency Services noted there are already "six centerline road names beginning with the name Baker" in Harford County, and it should be changed to avoid confusion.
Linda and Keith Fox live on Lot 1 in a house built by a member of the Benson family. Their home is accessed via the current driveway, and Wilson said they would still be able to access their property, but through the cul-de-sac at the end of the proposed access road.
Linda Fox suggested naming the street for the Bensons.
"We were just hoping that that would be considered, 200 years of history there, as far as the name of the street goes," she said.
Wilson said developers are "open to suggestions" regarding the name of the street.