Robert Edelstein is trying to stop a $12 million gorilla by screaming at it. John Maple says the gorilla is coming through, but he'll work to ease the pain.
Mr. Edelstein and several of his neighbors are in the path of an extension of Red Run Boulevard in Owings Mills. The extension is designed to open 1,200 acres, most of it farmland, to commercial development and considerably widen Baltimore County's employment base.
Mr. Maple is county project manager for the extension, which will run parallel to Interstate 795 and connect Owings Mills Town Center with Franklin Boulevard.
Construction of the three-mile, four-lane extension and a two-mile sewer line will begin in November and be completed by fall 1997, Mr. Maple said. The plan includes 300 acres for a park that will border Red Run, a stream that drains into Gwynns Falls west of I-795, the Northwest Expressway.
The project is emerging from a 10-year tangle of red tape and environmental studies, and will cost Mr. Edelstein and about a dozen of his neighbors part of their property.
Mr. Edelstein of the 200 block of Delight Meadows Road will lose a sliver off his 1.4 acres, plus a row of 20-year-old white pines that shield his property from traffic on Church Road. Others will lose several feet. "The road will ruin this neighborhood," Mr. Edelstein said. "My lawyer said the process has gone too far to stop, but he said to scream a lot anyway. So I'm screaming."
The county has a 25-foot easement on both sides of Church Road, which permits it to widen the road onto private property.
Alex Shpigel lives on 1.1 acres across Delight Meadows Road from Mr. Edelstein, and had no idea the Red Run Boulevard extension would border his property when he bought it in November.
"The extension now takes a sharp turn that brought it down Church Road. We had no idea that was going to happen," Mr. Shpigel said. He will lose a small slice of property and a row of white pines.
Mr. Maple said an alternative route that was in the original plans would have taken out a couple of houses and was discarded. He has been meeting with affected homeowners to see what the county can do to make the change easier.
"It's going to happen, and we'll try everything to make it work better," he said. He has agreed to relocate a driveway for one neighbor at county expense, and will repave another.
Commercial developers are eagerly awaiting the opening of the lTC boulevard extension.
Riparius Development Corp. owns 160 acres, including most of the Pikesville Sportsman's Club property, on the northern portion of the Red Run project. It will build a corporate office park with 3.5 million square feet of space, and include retail services such as banks and stores.
"We'll start when the county starts, and expect to be finished 20 to 24 months from November," said James K. Flannery Jr., president of Riparius.
The second largest landowner is Merritt, a commercial builder with 156 acres to the south of the Riparius property. "We haven't determined exactly what we're going to build yet, but we know there's a strong market for office space in the Owings Mills area," said Scott Dorsey, Merritt vice president.
The landowners are contributing land for the rights of way for roads and utilities, plus about 40 percent of the $12 million cost of the extension. The two-mile sewer line is expected to cost about $3.5 million, which is in addition to the road extension cost.
Merreen E. Kelly, county administrative officer, said county officials like the project because it will expand considerably the employment base as well as the tax base.
Mr. Maple said the extension was stalled for eight years because federal, state and county agencies weren't working together to get it done. "Two years ago, [former County Executive Roger B. Hayden] said we needed to get it done, and we began meeting regularly to figure it all out."
County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger III passed the word soon after taking office that he wanted it built, Mr. Kelly said.
Some of his neighbors won't even talk to him about fighting the road, Mr. Edelstein said. "They say they can't beat city hall."