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Middle River residents battle pharmacy plan; Project could get approval from official next month


Residents of Middle River are nursing a huge headache -- a developer's plan to build a pharmacy in their community.

Homeowners in the eastern Baltimore County communities of Victory Villa and Aero Acres have been battling a proposed CVS/pharmacy, featuring a drive-through pickup window, at Martin Boulevard and Compass Road where a patch of woods stands.

Opponents say the business would choke local streets with added traffic and ruin the quality of life with morning noises such as trucks emptying trash bins. Residents also are concerned about the fate of a school bus stop on nearby Compass Road.

Proponents argue the development would place a sparkling new building among World War II-vintage homes and bring added revenue into the community.

Leslie M. Pittler, a Towson attorney representing the developers, said the company has tried to meet community concerns and agreed to build a slightly smaller store to fit the area.

That's little consolation to many residents.

"I'll look out my kitchen window, and behold: a Dumpster," said Sharon McDowell, who has lived on Fuselage Avenue for 15 years.

Added Ellen Kern, whose back yard would be feet from the drugstore parking lot: "What will happen to our property value? Our swimming pool is so close to the place. Just what we want on a summer afternoon -- car fumes belching into our back yard."

Merchants, such as convenience store owner Michael Rogers, have taken a wait-and-see attitude.

"It makes you wonder how much people want," Rogers said. "I guess it's good for business in the area, but will it bring more traffic? If it gets done right, I'm all for it because it could mean more people coming into my store."

Joseph Deerin Sr., president of Blackford Development LTD of Lancaster, Pa., said construction could begin next fall after clearing a number of county zoning and development requirements.

"We went way beyond what is expected," said Pittler, who specializes in development projects in the county. "At this point, various people have had six or seven opportunities to look at this project in various meetings. It's not being shoved down their throats."

The project could be considered by a county zoning commissioner for final approval next month, according to Pittler, who said he is unaware of the costs of purchase of the wooded site or development and building.

The average CVS/pharmacy occupies 10,000 square feet and offers a pharmacy counter, health aids, a photo shop and other features, such as convenience food, said CVS/pharmacy spokesman Todd Andrew in Woonsocket, R.I.

Maryland has 166 CVS pharmacies, many operating around the clock, although the proposed Middle River store would not, he said.

Betty King, another Fuselage Avenue homeowner, said she's looking for a new home.

"I'm afraid the properties will be devalued," said King, who bought her home in 1955. "It will expose our neighborhoods to more people coming in, crime. I've spoken with two different Realtors about selling. It's time to move on, away from here."

Pub Date: 2/09/99

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