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Moores Mill Road residents concerned about housing slated for land annexed by Bel Air

The Bel Air town commissioners voted Monday to annex 2.33 acres into the town.
The Bel Air town commissioners voted Monday to annex 2.33 acres into the town. (DAVID ANDERSON | AEGIS FILE)

Although two nearby residents are concerned about the three single-family homes slated for development on Moores Mill Road, the Bel Air Board of Town Commissioners unanimously approved a charter resolution Monday to annex the 2.33 acres.

"It backs up [to] my backyard, so it's not something that's good for us," Angela Gates said.

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Gates, along with her husband, Robert, live in the 900 block of Moores Mill, two doors east of the property in question at 925 Moores Mill Road. They spoke during a public hearing Monday evening with the town commissioners.

The public hearing preceded the commissioners' vote to adopt the annexation resolution.

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The five-parcel property is owned by Joseph and Leslie Reedy, of Street, and the land is adjacent to the Major's Choice subdivision. Four of the five parcels, including one occupied by a vacant house, had been in Harford County.

The Reedys, whose family owned the farm that Major's Choice was built on during the 1980s, applied to have the parcels in the county annexed by the Town of Bel Air and then developed under town regulations.

Craig Falanga, owner and president of Pinnacle Design and Development in Fallston, will build three new houses and remodel the existing house. He also plans to repave the small road that will be a shared driveway for the subdivision residents.

Falanga said later the four residential parcels were in the county, and the fifth parcel, the driveway, is part of the town.

The Gates, who have two children and live in a house purchased by Angela's father when she was a child, are concerned about the safety of their children.

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Angela Gates said the children walk through the vacant parcels to nearby Major's Choice Park.

She fears her children would be cutting through private yards to get to the park if the houses are built, or they would risk walking along Moores Mill Road, where she said drivers "are not caring at all about the [traffic] circle slowing them down."

"I know there's a lot of money involved, and it would get Bel Air more taxpayers and things of that nature, but we're just people trying to live there," she said.

Robert Gates said the local traffic "is bad enough as it is" without adding more families in the neighborhood.

"It's a nice area," Gates continued. "We want to keep it that way."

Bel Air Planning Director Kevin Small said the parcels were zoned R2 under county zoning, which allows single-family homes and some townhouses, and they will also be R2, or medium-density residential, within the town boundaries.

Small said Bel Air's planning commission reviewed the petition for annexation on Oct. 1, and the commission determined the proposal "was consistent with the town's comprehensive plan."

Small said the commission recommended approving the annexation with the restriction that only single-family homes be built on the lots.

"Both the county and state of Maryland have reviewed the application and find it satisfactory," the planning director said.

Falanga, who was responding to the Gates' concerns, said during the public hearing that up to seven houses could be built on those lots under county development regulations, but he wants to build lower-density housing.

"What my idea was, along with the owners of the property, is to have this annexed into the town and downgrade the zoning – downgrade from a sense of density to the town zoning so it would be single family only," he said.

Angela Gates asked the town officials if there is any way to stop the development.

Small said the town Planning Commission must approve plans for building the houses, and neighbors can speak against the subdivision or ask for ways to mitigate the impact, such as buffers between properties, during that process.

"Whether it would be shut down or not is purely up to the planning commission," he said.

Commissioner Edward Hopkins recommended that the Gates family remain in touch with town planning staff to ensure they are aware of when various planning meetings and public hearings happen.

"There is a process for developing the property," Hopkins said. "There's a process for your voice to be heard."

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