Broadneck residents' group opposes waivers for proposed subdivision


Unable to convince the county executive and several council members that development should be curtailed in their area, a group of Broadneck residents has taken aim at the latest request on the peninsula for an exemption to the county's adequate facilities law.

The Whitehall-Meredith Residents Association has invited most Broadneck organizations and county planners to a meeting Wednesday to argue against Lighthouse Landing, a proposed 134-house subdivision on 61 acres between U.S. 50 and Whitehall Creek.

Broadneck residents are upset because schools and roads have not kept pace with rapid growth.

Developers of the subdivision have asked for a waiver to the county's adequate facilities law because the schools are crowded.

"What I am trying to do is alert the community," said Robert J. Poor, president of the Whitehall association. "What we are saying is with 134 homes going in, they can't get waivers."

Lighthouse Landing was one of the last "grandfathered" subdivisions in the county. Its owners had permission to build about 154 single-family houses because the property was platted in 1980, before newer restrictions on waterfront development took effect. But the developers failed to make payments on school waivers to maintain their exemption, and last year county officials revoked the waivers and permission to build the subdivision.

The scaled-down proposal resurfaced three weeks ago. The school system has recommended that waivers not be granted because the development would add an estimated 127 children to schools that already are over capacity, said George E. Hatch ** Jr., school planning officer.

"Everyone in that area is being turned down" by the school system, he said.

The adequate facilities law, which says roads, water, sewer and schools must be able to serve proposed development, allows the county Office of Planning and Code Enforcement to override a school system recommendation if the developer pays fees earmarked for new schools.

Ed Sears, one of the developers, said they would widen Whitehall Road near the project and add a turn lane. The houses would be on well water and hooked up to public sewers, and he expects to pay the county nearly $500,000 toward expanding schools, he said.

"The issue isn't really schools or roads," Mr. Sears said. "The people don't want any more houses."

Mr. Poor said that other roads in the area, not just Whitehall Road, should be considered, and that existing neighborhoods seek only a temporary respite.

"What we are saying is, you want to develop it, fine. But do it right," Mr. Poor said.

Broadneck Federation President Willis H. White agreed: "When you tell us you are coming to continue to aggravate the problem, we are not too happy about that."

The developers have not been invited to Wednesday's meeting, but several county officials have promised to attend. The meeting is at 7:30 p.m. at St. Margaret's Church at St. Margaret's and Pleasant Plains roads.

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