Hampstead's field of screams With so many conflicts, developer should withdraw from Roberts Field.


WHEN POLICE threaten to arrest agents of Carroll County's most powerful developer for trespass, it's clear the issue is bigger than details of building plans. At Roberts Field subdivision in Hampstead, there's a long list of community disputes with developer Martin K. P. Hill, from ownership to housing density to open space.

The conflict came to a head this week when workers for the developer were blocked from constructing a storm-water basin on land owned by the Fields Homeowners' Association.

Mr. Hill claimed he had easements for the pond in gaining a state storm-water permit two years ago. Only after the police confrontation did the state Department of the Environment belatedly change its permit to require proof of the easement. The storm-water basin is needed to build 96 more condominiums in Roberts Field, where Mr. Hill has built 600 homes.

The trespassing showdown would not have occurred had the developer enjoyed better relations with the town of Hampstead and with buyers of his housing. Instead, there has been tension and disagreement at almost every turn.

Hampstead claims that the developer owes the town 16 acres of unencumbered open space, under the code for subdivisions, which he has not provided. The municipality also claims he exceeded the population densities allowed in his building plan for the subdivision (by constructing three-bedroom units instead the permitted two-bedroom units). And the town is challenging Carroll County for issuing a grading permit to Mr. Hill for the project, over the objections of Hampstead.

Meantime, the homeowners' association is negotiating a transfer the town of storm-water control properties deeded to it by the developer, which are costly to maintain. There is discontent that storm-water facilities in Roberts Field were claimed by the developer as "open-space amenities."

Home owners are worried about the long-term environmental effects and legal responsibilities for the proposed storm-water basin. Property owners downstream on Piney Run are concerned about erosion and stream-widening they link to the Roberts Field development.

With so many such actual and potential problems, the community would benefit from Mr. Hill's graceful withdrawal from the Field.

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