Mount Airy residents frustrated by construction


Until April of this year, residents of Twin Ridge were quietly enjoying their community of $200,000 homes.

Then construction began on a warehouse for heavy excavating equipment on land next to Twin Ridge, on the Frederick County side of Mount Airy.

And residents learned that 70-foot tower lights were going to be installed at the neighborhood sports field.

Then they found out that a new road might bring a steady flow of truck traffic right through Twin Ridge.

The developments of the past few months have galvanized the Twin Ridge community. Residents have held neighborhood meetings, done research and, on Monday, about 60 homeowners descended on the Town Council meeting to vent their frustration and seek solutions.

"We really enjoy living in Mount Airy and don't want to put our house up for sale," said Patty Washabaugh, who has been organizing residents with her husband, Tim.

"We felt we were misled," Mrs. Washabaugh said. "We did do our homework [before moving to Twin Ridge], we did investigate, and it's very disheartening to be in the position we're in."

Mrs. Washabaugh and other Twin Ridge residents say that when they were buying their homes, they were led to believe that the land adjacent to the community was to be developed as "light industrial."

But there is no distinction between light and heavy industrial zoning in Mount Airy.

Mrs. Washabaugh said a 1990 memo from Twin Ridge's developer, L.D.G. Inc., to the builder, Grayson Homes, states that the industrial development will include businesses such as pTC an electrician, a plumber and a blacksmith.

"You get a very rosy image of what this industrial park's going to look like, and people bought into that concept," she said.

Twin Ridge homeowners say that they were surprised when Accubid Excavation began to build a warehouse to store heavy industrial equipment at Deer Hollow Drive and Rising Ridge Road. It's the first new building at the site in several years. The only other business, Meyers Liquid Fertilizer Co., has been there since 1977.

E. Brooke Lee III, president of L.D.G. Inc., which developed Twin Ridge, said the residents shouldn't be surprised by industrial development in the neighborhood.

Mr. Lee said the 1990 memo to which Mrs. Washabaugh cited states that possible development at the site includes storage warehouses.

"I can empathize with the citizens, but I don't think they have their facts straight," Mr. Lee said.

Mrs. Washabaugh acknowledges that many Twin Ridge homeowners knew the land adjacent to the community was zoned for industrial use, but they question why the zoning wasn't changed when Twin Ridge Elementary School was being planned several years ago.

Residents say they're concerned for the safety of their children.

"Any excavation equipment stored behind a barbed wire fence spells trouble," Mrs. Washabaugh said. "Why would you put it next to an elementary school?"

Mount Airy town planner Teresa Bamberger said she doesn't have an answer to that question.

"That decision was made years ago," she said. "I don't have the information to know how it was made."

Plans to install 70-foot light towers at the Twin Ridge sports field have some neighbors worried that they won't need lights in their homes at night because the field will provide more than enough illumination.

Twin Ridge resident Bob Beckwith, who lives across the street from the field, moved into his new home June 17.

He said he didn't find out about the proposed lights until a day before he settled on the house.

"We didn't move here to be living next to Camden Yards," Mr. Beckwith said.

Monday night, Town Council members scheduled a meeting at 7:30 p.m. July 22 at the town hall between the Recreation and Parks Board and residents to discuss issues related to the field.

Additionally, the scheduled opening of Rising Ridge Road next week has Twin Ridge residents worried that truck traffic will use it to avoid Main Street.

They had asked that a no-left-turn sign be placed at Prospect Road and Hill Street to prevent truck traffic from taking Prospect Road to Rising Ridge Road.

Council members said that the road is designed to divert some traffic from Main Street and rejected the idea of the no-left-turn sign.

Instead, the council voted to place stop signs and crosswalks along Rising Ridge Road to improve safety.

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