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Planners want scenic roads exempted from design rules No one attends hearing on proposed exception


October brings renewed interest in Baltimore County's scenic roads -- through rolling fields and autumn-tinted woodlands, between tree-lined hedgerows, past streams rushing through gorges -- but apparently not in legislation to preserve their

bucolic charm.

No one showed up for a public hearing last week on the proposal that would exempt designated scenic roads from strict road design standards. Rural roads designated in the county master plan, a guide to land use, as scenic corridors would be affected.

County planners have recommended that when new development takes place, scenic roads -- as far as safety regulations allow -- be exempt from requirements for widening or construction of turn lanes.

Currently, the minimum width of a two-lane country road is 16 feet. In some cases, portions of rural roads are too narrow for two vehicles to pass each other without one pulling to the side.

In 1992, amendments to the county development manual permitted officials to recommend that the layout of housing subdivisions be changed to minimize the visual impact along scenic routes.

"So far, making changes in housing development plans -- which is not an absolute requirement on the developer -- has worked out very well," said Arnold F. "Pat" Keller III, county planning director.

"We felt that since we are trying to preserve the views, we should also try and preserve as much as possible the rural character of the road itself," Mr. Keller said.

The planning board is expected to make a final recommendation to the County Council on the road-standard exemptions for scenic routes this month.

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