Elkridge residents told the Howard County zoning board last night that they are angry and frustrated that they have to fight for a promised golf course in their community.
About 30 residents showed up to oppose a request by the developers of the Centre 9500 project to begin construction of homes before signing an agreement with the county for an 18-hole golf course.
The project, a 352-acre residential, commercial and golfing community, is to be built northwest of the Interstate 95 and Route 100 interchange.
Residents fear that the golf course will not be built if the homes are completed first.
"You're putting the cart before the horse," said Steve Heggemann, president of the Marshallee Civic Association.
"The community said it wants a done deal on the golf course," he said.
Residents became concerned about the promised golf course after learning that the zoning board took a straw vote last month to gauge its opinion on whether it should allow the developers to proceed first with construction of the homes. The 3-2 vote favored permitting the developers to do that.
Elkridge residents say that vote contradicts a May 3, 1990, zoning board decision and order, stating that if the golf course is not built, the site plan "shall be null and void," and developers must resubmit a petition showing their plans for the property.
But the developers, 100 Investment Limited Partnership, say a delay in negotiations over the golf course is costing them hundreds of thousands of dollars a day in addition to about $600,000 they already spent on plans and studies for the golf course.
The developers said they are ready to begin building the golf course. But the county is delaying the start of construction because of a disagreement over what is included in the $6 million the county agreed to pay for the golf course in December, the developers said.
"I think they're dragging their feet, and they don't understand that it's costing us a lot of money each day and a lot of anguish," said developer John Liparini.
"I feel very frustrated at having to be here," said Cathy Hudson, president of the Elkridge Community Association. "My motherly instincts say there are two sides having a squabble and one side has come to us and is saying, 'Nyah, nyah, nyah.' "
If the zoning board grants the developers' request, residents say the county would lose its bargaining power.
"We'll never get that golf course," said Barbara Wachs, who lives on Deer Ridge Lane near the project. "Here we are about to give away our last little bit of hope."
The zoning board, which also sits as the County Council, will decide the issue at a future work session.
The developers' attorney, Richard Talkin, said he plans to ask the planning board today to postpone a public hearing on amending its prior decision on construction of the homes.