An Eldersburg developer can build 12 houses in a 40-year-old subdivision that predates county regulations and is served by a single road the county has labeled substandard.
The project got the go-ahead yesterday from the Carroll County Board of Zoning Appeals.
The three-member board denied an appeal, filed by the four present residents of the Homedale subdivision in Sykesville, that asked to prevent further construction until Homedale Road, a 12-foot-wide, gravel driveway, could be brought up to county standards.
"This was not an easy decision for the board to make," said Claude R. Rash, board member. "In the light of the progress made by the county and the owner [in recent negotiations over the road], we are denying the appeal with the recommendation that the property owners improve the situation to eliminate safety concerns."
The residents testified to the dangerous intersection with Klees Mill Road and problems likely to arise from new houses putting many more vehicles on the narrow road.
"The road is unsafe," said Lawrence E. Krynski, a Homedale resident for six years. "The grade at the entrance makes it difficult to stop.
"Sight distance is extremely poor, especially for those making a left turn. The new part of the road is in worse condition and already washing out."
Brenda Gackenbach said that when she moved to Homedale 11 years ago, the seller told her road improvements would accompany any further development.
"I want a safe road, approved by the county," she said.
Marian Smyth, whose Klees Mill Road home faces Homedale, said accidents have increased "in number and severity" on the hTC sharp curve just north of Homedale.
Joseph and Ann Wisby offered to sell the developer, Michael Reeves, a half-acre at the intersection so he could improve the sight distance.
Mr. Reeves was under no legal obligation to purchase the land, said his attorney, David S. Greber.
"My client took interest in land subject to laws before 1965," said Mr. Greber. "It is not fair to retroactively apply standards. We have offered to do more than is legally required."
Residents said they would put their money where their arguments are.
"I have offered to pay my share and more in an effort to come to a resolution," said Mr. Krynski. "All the residents are willing to sign an irrevocable commitment to pave the road to county standards. The builder is the only one unwilling."
Mr. Reeves told the board yesterday that he would consider making Homedale an 18-foot-wide county road, but not without knowing the cost. Under the county's street ordinance, the owners of a majority of lots must approve the road construction and repay the county a share of the construction costs over 10 years.
As owner of the majority of the lots, Mr. Reeves would have the final say and bear most of the cost.
In issuing the decision, Woodrow Raver, zoning board member, said he had "no qualms" in abiding by the terms of an agreement for improvements that Mr. Reeves and county officials signed last month.
"If we can't rely on these county government people, we are in bad shape," he said.
Solveig Smith, county zoning administrator, said the board of public works had pronounced the promised improvements adequate. She testified that Homedale, originally recorded in 1957, would not meet county standards today and called the road in particular "quite a challenge."
Until the appeal was resolved, the county could not issue building permits. Mr. Reeves filed a civil suit against the residents saying their appeal was disrupting his livelihood.