Several Catonsville residents asked county officials yesterday
to block a proposed 12-home development in their neighborhood, charging that it will drastically change the area's landscape and add to heavy traffic.
"My favorite thing to do is sit out on the deck and enjoy nature," Mary Burton, whose family has lived in the neighborhood for 50 years, said at a zoning hearing. "Deer come into your backyard and if they go ahead with this, that's not going to happen #F anymore."
Developer Brian Macari is seeking approval for Oak Forest Glen, which is planned on six acres of mostly wooded land on Hilton Avenue.
But the county has imposed restrictions on building permits in the area because of problems during peak travel times at the intersection of Rolling Road and Valley Road. Mr. Macari is seeking a special exception to the area's traffic moratorium.
"To say that my little piece of property exacerbates the moratorium is ridiculous," said Mr. Macari, who plans to build a home there for himself if the project is approved. "I'm very willing to work with people there to make it a responsible development."
Mr. Macari said he feels unfairly targeted because traffic problems result from the state's failure to complete Route 100, therefore encouraging Howard County residents to use Rolling Road as a bypass.
"It's not fair to penalize an individual for a situation that's brought about by irresponsible state and county planning," he said.
An anonymous letter sent to area residents informed them of yesterday's zoning hearing and accused Mr. Macari of taking advantage of a hardship waiver granted to the land's previous owner, Ila Quinn. The county granted Mrs. Quinn permission to build three homes on the property.
Ms. Burton, who lives on Hilton Avenue, strongly objected to the expanded development proposal. She said it will mean tearing down old trees and adding traffic to her block.
She said congestion on her street is so bad that it sometimes takes her two minutes to get out of her driveway in the morning. She said she has already seen the neighborhood change drastically because of Patapsco Woods, a new community of 171 homes on 150 acres that once contained forest.
"It's got to stop somewhere," she said. "This is not my definition of progress."
Sheldon Smith, a Patapsco Woods resident, said he was in favor of the Oak Forest Glen proposal.
"It's going to be good for our property values, good for our tax base and good for our school," he said. "Development is inevitable, and as long as we can get good quality homes built, then that's a plus."
Howard L. Alderman Jr., Mr. Macari's lawyer, pointed out that Patapsco Woods had been approved for an additional 14 homes that were never built.
The zoning commission has 15 days from yesterday's hearing to render a decision.