Columbia Association putting its garage where the noise won't matter Resident's protests finally heeded


The Columbia Association and its public works operation are going in opposite directions.

While the association moves this week to new offices in Town Center to be closer to people, its trucks, buses and equipment soon will be moved to site where the neighbors won't mind the noise.

The association was to build a new public works garage next door to Columbia Hills and Meadowbrook Farms but residents' protests put an end to those plans even after the association had spent about $100,000.

On July 31, the association bought a building for $1.8 million in an industrial park near Route 32 and Broken Land Parkway. The move from a garage on Banneker Road in Town Center is planned for October.

"I think it's fantastic. I'm glad its happened," said Aleta Gravelle of Meadowbrook Farms.

"It really left a bad taste in my mouth when [association leaders] went and did it behind our backs, but now that they have taken our opinion into consideration, I have a higher opinion of them."

Residents protested that the garage would bring pollution and heavy truck traffic to Edgar Road, their neighborhood's only two-way entrance.

The site was selected during open meetings of the Columbia Council, which directs the association. However, neither Columbia Hills nor Meadowbrook Farms is part of Columbia and residents don't keep track of council proceedings.

The 4.7-acre site on Edgar Road was donated by the Rouse Co., but switching to the new site won't be more expensive, said Pam Mack, the association's vice president for community relations.

"It's coming in under the price of the one we were going to build ourselves," Mrs. Mack said. The facility was budgeted for $3 million, and the purchase price plus the cost of renovations will be well within that figure, she said.

The 8.47-acre site on Gerwig Road, developed in 1972, includes a 29,600-square-foot warehouse with 6,900 square feet of finished office space and a 10,000-square-foot storage building. Its former owner, Allied Building Products Corp., is moving out of the county.

"It almost looks like it was designed to meet our program. All the space needs we had are met there," said Fred Pryor, the association's vice president of Open Space Management.

"It's in a good location," noted Pryor, who had to face about 200 angry residents at a Columbia Hills-Meadowbrook Farms Community Association meeting last October. "There's other industrial sites adjacent on all sides and across the road from it."

The facility will serve as a place to park and service 25 dump trucks and 40 other vehicles, including ColumBus buses. Pryor's division, which maintains parks and open space in Columbia, will be the site's main occupant.

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