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Scenic Manor development near Bulle Rock gets Havre de Grace council approval

A revised public works agreement for the Scenic Manor development off Chapel Road, right, near Bulle Rock, was finally approved by the Havre de Grace City Council Monday night, following more than two years of wrangling between the city and the developer over site plan revisions and water and sewer connection fees.
A revised public works agreement for the Scenic Manor development off Chapel Road, right, near Bulle Rock, was finally approved by the Havre de Grace City Council Monday night, following more than two years of wrangling between the city and the developer over site plan revisions and water and sewer connection fees. (DAVID ANDERSON | AEGIS STAFF / Baltimore Sun)

A new community of 85 homes along Chapel Road in Havre de Grace has finally been cleared to move forward after the Havre de Grace City Council voted 4 to 2 Monday to approve an amended public works agreement for the Scenic Manor development.

Several residents returned to Monday's council meeting to voice their concerns about traffic issues related to the development, but Council President Steve Gamatoria said he believes Chapel Road improvements will occur with or without the development.

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Council members Randy Craig and David Martin voted against the agreement between the city and Elm Street Development Scenic Manor LLC.

The council's decision comes on the heels of about two years of litigation, which ended in a court settlement requiring the city to approve the public works agreement in order for the project to move forward.

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In exchange, the two sides agreed to a schedule of reduced water and sewer connection fee payments and developer-funded improvements along Chapel Road. The developer will also be required to size water and sewer lines so they can be connected to the Montgomery Green properties the city is annexing when the later are developed in the future. Elm Street will be able to recover some of those costs once the additional development occurs.

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The council tabled action on the agreement last month after four area residents, three from nearby War Admiral Way in Bulle Rock, said they were worried about widening Chapel Road only in the direction of their street for a proposed bypass lane to the planned Vista Bay Court entrance to Scenic Manor.

Some council members still had concerns Monday about the line of sight on the road.

Gamatoria, however, said he would support the project based on "where we are with it," noting it has "been a long, long road" for the Scenic Manor saga.

"This is the best we can do under the circumstances," he said. "I am very hopeful that after this, we can see some activity on Vista Bay very quickly, see recoupment from capital cost recovery [fees for the city]."

Councilwoman Monica Worrell said she was worried about having a left-hand turn out of the new development onto Chapel Road and wondered if the agreement could be approved without the left turn. But City attorney Paul Ishak said the agreement must be passed as presented or the city faced the prospect of being taken back to court.

"The developer has said they don't believe they can sell homes if it's right-in, right-out [access]," Ishak said.

Councilman David Martin said an estimated 40 percent of crashes happen at intersections, and his biggest concern was that a significant number of critical injuries happen when turning left.

Councilman David Glenn said he supported the project but added, "We have got to be sensitive to the residents on War Admiral."

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