Several development issues remain on the Fallston community's radar, including a proposed commercial site at Route 1 and Milton Avenue and apartments slated for the historic Mt. Soma Farm near Route 1 and the Bel Air Bypass.
"The big ticket item" at the Harford County Council's upcoming meeting will be the Mt. Soma development, Councilman Joe Woods told residents at a Fallston Community Council meeting Tuesday night.
The development is part of a proposed water and sewer plan update for spring 2014, introduced March 4.
Woods said he will propose an amendment to strike a section that would place the Soma property in the W-3 category; inclusion in that category would speed up the property's inclusion in the public water system service area.
The developer, Klein Enterprises of Owings Mills, wants to build 285 apartments at the intersection of Route 1 (Baltimore Pike) and Old Joppa Road, according to the proposed water and sewer revision, which Woods said he objects to "for multiple reasons."
Woods said the developer has access to only one water connection and he wants to keep it that way. The water and sewer plan update is scheduled to have a hearing before the county council on April 1 at 6:30 p.m.
Woods noted the Town of Bel Air already has water shortage issues. He said he is confident both the town and Maryland American Water will object to the project.
"Let them have that [one] building and if they want to build that apartment, they have the legal right to," Woods said about the developer's limited water access.
Woods also said traffic issues and runoff to Winters Run would be other major problems from the proposed development. Winters Run is the Bel Air area's principal water source, and the intake for the water treatment plant operated by the town's supplier, Maryland American Water, is just west of the proposed development.
Morita Bruce, who is an advocate on county development issues and president of the preservation group Friends of Harford, said one of her biggest concerns is the zoning code's disregard for broad community impacts from proposed developments.
"Just because something might be legal doesn't make it right," said Bruce, who was present at the community council meeting.
Woods said the master land use plan for the Benson-Fallston area excludes high-density housing. He said the plan has been disregarded by county planners on the grounds it is "just a guide."
According to the section of the proposed water and sewer revision, the Soma property will receive water service from an existing water main along the Bel Air Bypass and sewer service from an existing main through the property.
The property is zoned B-3, for high-density use.
Fallston resident Brian Schorr also said he is concerned about the proposed retail development at Route 1 and Milton Avenue, which would take up a 1.42-acre lot on the north side of Milton Avenue near the entrance to the Fallston Crossing community.
Michael Euler Sr., a Fallston based developer who owns the property, submitted plans last year to put fast food or similar retail uses on the site.
"It's legally zoned B-3 so legally he can do whatever he wants, but it's absolutely not right for that area," Schorr said.
Schorr, who lives nearby, noted there is almost no visibility on that part of Route 1 and traffic would be awful.
"I understand it's going to be developed. That's not the issue," he said, explaining he is concerned about the proposal for more fast food and lack of buffers.
Euler said Thursday he has signed up Pizza Hut and Waffle House for the property and is in negotiations with a third potential user, "a coffee chain."
Soliciting, General Assembly
Community council chairman Dave Williams reminded residents that any soliciting in the county requires a permit.
He said he recently saw three people walking door-to-door in reflective vests, confronted them, found they did not have a permit and told them to leave.
Woods said the time he has spent in Annapolis this year with the General Assembly is winding down and he is very happy about it. Woods is the county council's liaison to the Maryland Association of Counties.
"This session has been the most boring session I have ever been a part of. Everyone is scared to do anything," he said, noting only bills that "seem nice and happy" are being introduced in this election year.
Woods also said he was shocked Gov. Martin O'Malley took $22 million from the Chesapeake Bay restoration fund, whose principal source of revenue is the statewide tax known widely as the "flush tax."
"That was very shocking to us because he promised us that would never happen," Woods said, adding the fund was raided three times previously.
"It's disgusting," he said.