Work begins today on a 152-unit retirement community in South Carroll.
But, a lengthy debate on what is now an unbuildable access road almost curtailed the groundbreaking.
The Planning Commission approved Winifred Manor yesterday on a 12-acre site along Monroe Avenue, south of Liberty Road, but deferred for further study the proposed Monroe Business Center, which would adjoin the retirement community.
Debate on both projects centered on safety issues and Ridenour Way, a service road that exists only on the county master plan. Ridenour Way would provide Winifred Manor and the business center with access to Monroe Avenue, which has a traffic signal at Liberty Road.
A property owner's refusal to sell the last piece of land needed to complete the road forced the developer to place the community entrance farther north on Monroe and create a temporary second access to Liberty Road.
The State Highway Administration will allow the second access, but it will be for right turns only once Ridenour is completed. The commission plans to make Ridenour part of its capital improvements budget next year.
"Ridenour must happen," said David Duree, commission chairman. "Public safety is [maintained with] the use of Ridenour and not Liberty Road."
Dan Hughes, a community activist, asked why a house was built where a service road was planned.
"The only solution to this is for the taxpayers to pick up the tab and that is no solution," he said.
Rosario D. Rizzo, developer of the project, which has been moving through the development process for 18 months, has agreed to widen and improve Monroe Avenue.
Winifred Manor is the second community Rizzo has developed for senior citizens in Eldersburg. He opened Marvin Gardens, a 55-unit complex, two years ago.
"Marvin Gardens community is like a family," said Elizabeth Grochowski. "We watch out for each other, and we need more like it in Carroll County."
But those needs must take into account a community's ability to provide services, said Bob Chesney, deputy chief for emergency operations with the Sykesville Volunteer Fire Department.
Emergency calls have increased 20 percent this year, and 47 percent of the 2,000 calls last year were to facilities that house the elderly. Winifred Manor should have an ambulance and driver on site, he said.
"We are not against retirement communities, but they should make plans for their care," said Chesney. "They are taxing us to the max."
Still, Chesney certified emergency services as adequate in his review of the development.
"We can't do anything about this unless you say it is inadequate," said Joseph Mettle, a planning commissioner.
Carolyn Fairbank of the Carroll Highlands Association gave the commission material on what she termed inadequate police, utilities and roads, and a chronology of the development.
"Within one mile, we have 60 entrances onto Liberty Road," she said. "We also have vacant retail space. We don't need another strip shopping center."
Pub Date: 8/21/96