Seven residential lots are proposed off of Connolly Road in Fallston which, pending Harford County approval, would be created within land owned by the estate of Joseph D. Deigert across the road from the Humane Society of Harford County.
The seven single-family houses would be on a 46.4-acre, agricultrually-zoned property 1,500 feet east of Route 152 and on the north side of Connolly Road, Dudley Campbell, principal of the Bay State Land Services engineering firm in Forest Hill, said during a Harford County Development Advisory Committee hearing on the plan Wednesday morning.
Connolly Road, a narrow, twisting county owned road about a mile long, is a link between two major roads, Route 152 and Route 147, and has a mix of housing, some relatively new, some older.
The lots discussed Wednesday are the second section of a community called Connolly Farms. Four adjacent lots, served by an unnamed private driveway off of Connolly Road, have either been developed or are being developed. A house on the fourth lot is under construction, according to neighbors who attended the hearing.
The lots are served by wells and septic systems, according to the plan presented Wednesday. Attorney Bradley Stover of the Bel Air law firm Shaffer, McLauchlin & Stover LLC, which is representing the Deigert estate, also attended the hearing.
Joseph Deigert, a Fallston resident who died in 2004, was one of the most active developers of mostly onetime farm properties in and around Fallston during the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s. He also developed properties closer to Bel Air and in the Edgewood area, often in partnership during his later years with Michael Euler Sr., who is still one of Harford County's most active developers.
Following Deigert's death, his estate became embroiled in lengthy litigation among heirs and creditors, and some of the properties he owned, such as the one off Connolly Road, still haven't been fully developed 14 years later.
A small group of residents, such as Linda and Keith Fox, who have lived in an existing farmhouse on Connolly Farms Lot 1 for about 23 years, and new homeowners Daniel Bovill (Lot 2) and Kevin Hershner (Lot 3), attended Wednesday's DAC meeting.
Efforts to develop the Deigert estate's land off Connolly Road, which is part of a 300-acre tract platted in 1977, have "gone through many different engineers, many different phases," Campbell said.
"We're just trying to get everything cleaned up and get the estate settled," he said.
The 300 acres, which are between BGE power lines running north and south and forested areas surrounding Edgeley Grove Park, had 30 development rights as of 1977, and the tract was divided into six sections. Those sections, along with their development rights, have been conveyed to various owners over the years, according to a Sept. 9, 2015 letter from Milton "Moe" Davenport, of the Harford County Department of Planning and Zoning, to Stover.
Davenport, the department's chief of development review and chairman of the DAC, said most of the land has not been developed, and one section is owned by Harford County.
The Connolly Farms tract is within the school district serving Youth's Benefit Elementary School, Fallston Middle School and Fallston High School, according to Davenport.
Efforts to liquidate the Deigert estate are "proceeding forward," according to Campbell.
"Unfortunately this has been a long, ongoing process," he said. "I know it's frustrated Brad [Stover] and myself, it's frustrated [Planning and Zoning] and obviously frustrated many neighbors."
Access to the new lots, two of which have frontage along Connolly Road, will be via the existing common drive that serves the four existing lots.
The developers will have to make improvements to Connolly where the private road meets it, according to Mike Rist, of the Department of Public Works, who said they must upgrade the entrance to the private drive, address the roadside drainage along Connolly, plus the "site entrance shall have adequate sight distance for 35 mph design speed."
Campbell said they are working with the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Army Corps of Engineers to build a bridge over a stream on the property — the access road is ferried over the waterway now via a pipe and culvert system, which the bridge would replace.