Residents who live near Waverly Woods in Ellicott City long ago lost their battle to prevent the 680-acre mixed-use community, but they are not through fighting the developer.
Last night, more than 200 residents went to the Howard County Planning Board meeting to protest proposed rezonings of six parcels of land in and adjacent to Waverly Woods.
They worry that the proposed changes -- which would make some residential land commercial and some commercial land residential -- would allow developer Donald L. Reuwer to build more homes and get twice as much space for commercial uses.
The board heard hours of testimony, then voted to approve four of the six rezonings. But the board restricted commercial uses, preventing the amount of commercial space from doubling.
The board also denied commercial zoning along Old Frederick Road.
Next, the proposals go to the Zoning Board, which will make the final decision on the properties. A date for that hearing has not been set.
More than 500 residents oppose the proposed rezonings, according to testimony from community representatives last night. They worry about traffic, noise and the effect of the increased development on their well water.
They particularly object to commercial zoning along Route 99, also known as Old Frederick Road, the representatives said.
"As you well know, to date there has been no commercial development along Route 99, and for obvious traffic reasons," said Harry Miller of Woodstock Road. "Equally, as you well know, commercial begats commercial. We oppose any further consideration of commercial development [along Route 99] since it is not harmonious with -- and, in fact, would be injurious to -- the existing and future intent of the area."
Dave Wanex of Woodstock Road worries about increased traffic on the road.
"Add some fog, and you've got the potential for a major disaster," he said.
Robin Todd, president of the Allenford Homeowners Association, said the rezonings would allow the developer to build dozens more homes in Waverly Woods.
Lori Perry, a Woodstock homemaker who opposes the changes, said before yesterday's meeting that she is not optimistic neighbors will win the battle.
She said that, like many citizens, she feels powerless in the face of development and has bad memories from trying to fight Waverly Woods seven years ago.
"They made you feel like a stupid little bug," Perry said. "This is why nobody wants to come out and stand up and be counted. They don't want to be squashed."