100 residents attend council hearing to debate road project


A $297,000 road project scheduled for fiscal 2000 was the focus last night of a County Council hearing on the noneducation portion of County Executive Charles I. Ecker's $93 million capital budget proposal.

About 100 eastern Howard County residents turned out to debate a proposal to connect Hale Haven Drive with Doncaster Drive near Route 103. Both roads are cul-de-sacs now.

Those who live on Worthington Way said the county promised them access to Route 103 more than 20 years ago and that they tTC cannot wait until 2000 for the road to be connected. Residents living on Hale Haven Drive said the connection would destroy the tranquillity and safety of their neighborhood.

All agreed with Robert A. Monniere, a resident of Hale Haven Drive who said that "poor planning [by county officials] pitted these two neighborhoods against each other."

Jean Cline, a resident of Worthington Way, said her neighbors have been waiting 20 years for the county to keep its promise to provide an access road. They want the project moved up to fiscal 1996, which will begin July 1. "We need four access roads and are only asking for one," she said.

Mary Strem, a Hale Haven Drive resident, urged the council to eliminate the project and find another alternative for Worthington residents. Linking Hale Haven Drive with Doncaster Drive would turn the street into a dangerous thoroughfare and would imperil the safety of her 2-year-old daughter, she said.

Councilman Darrel Drown, who represents both neighborhoods, asked the county Department of Public Works to explore alternative solutions.

"We realize this is a contentious issue," Mr. Drown said. "Roads are always contentious. We realize we need some form of connection somewhere."

James M. Irvin, director of public works, said the agency is not seeking funding or planning to begin work on the 300-foot connection until fiscal 2000. He said the county intended to make the connection 20 years ago. It didn't, Mr. Irvin said, because the property between the two roads was owned by a utility company and not the developer responsible for building Hale Haven Drive.

The council was urged to bring another future project into the fiscal 1996 budget. Richard B. Talkin, who represents the owner of Midway Mobil Home Park in North Laurel, wants the county to act now on a $722,0000 storm drainage project in the area. The county does not plan to begin the two-year project until fiscal 1998.

Mr. Talkin asked the council to "find a way to accelerate the project from [fiscal year] 2000 to something on a more timely basis." He said the residents of Midway have been suffering severe flooding since 1987 because surrounding properties were developed before county requirements for storm drainage.

There was virtually no testimony from the public last night about projects that would be funded in next year's capital budget, except for a $5 million project to bring public water to properties surrounding the county landfill in Marriottsville. Carcinogenic contaminants have been discovered in test wells at the landfill.

Marriottsville residents L. Scott Muller and Dr. Donald Gill, leaders in the fight to end pollution at the landfill and bring public water to nearby residents, urged the council last night to approve the project.

"The situation at the landfill continues to deteriorate," Mr. Muller said.

"That problem will be solved by this project, and additionally, 400 residents will no longer need fear the potential health effects from drinking water that may be contaminated by toxic chemicals leaching from the landfill," Mr. Muller said.

The council will hear testimony on the Howard Community College portion of the budget May 2, and a hearing on the Board of Education portion of the budget will follow two days later.

The council plans to set the property tax rate and approve the budget on May 19.

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