The county Environmental Affairs Advisory Board will allow the owner of Carrolltown Center to plant about 10 trees to replace ground disturbed for construction of the mall's last possible business.
The board granted the owner of the Eldersburg mall a variance to the Forest Conservation Ordinance yesterday. The variance applies only to the construction of Blockbuster Video at the mall, which faces Liberty Road.
Blockbuster plans to open a 5,500-square-foot store there this fall. Construction, adjacent to the Super Fresh store, will disturb 8,500 square feet of ground and bring to 25,000 square feet the cumulative amount disturbed since the ordinance took effect last year.
The law requires the mall owner to plant 5 acres of trees to replace the total amount disturbed ground. Most of the land disturbed has been blacktop.
"That would create an undue hardship for us," said R. Dixon Harvey Jr., owner of the 32-acre center. "We would have to find a 5-acre parcel and plant it."
The variance instead requires planting 1,275 square feet, said Neil Ridgely, county program manager for the division of landscape and forest conservation.
"It would require 17 planting units [the 10 trees and other plantings] and Mr. Harvey is putting in 74," said Mr. Ridgely. "He really has come in with a fair amount of landscaping. I am pleased to see ornamental grasses and perennials."
Mr. Harvey said contractors will be removing blacktop and adding "more porous surface in landscaping" to another section of the mall property.
He is working with a landscape architect to develop a master plan to provide additional cooling and shade areas on the site, he told the board.
Mr. Ridgely said he needs to see the developer's plan for complying with the county's orders as soon as possible. Once that is approved, Mr. Harvey can apply for a grading permit.
Mr. Harvey said he hopes to begin construction on the Blockbuster store in August.