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Vote delayed on 24-home development


The city Planning Commission voted unanimously yesterday to defer action on the final development plan for a disputed Northwest Baltimore subdivision until the Department of Public Works comments on the project's environmental impact on the Gwynns Falls.

After a testy, 3 1/2 -hour meeting, seven of the nine commissioners voted. One was absent, and Chairman Peter E. Auchincloss recused himself because he is president of Dickeyville Community Association Inc., which opposes the development sought by Hillsdale Heights Neighborhood Association.

The Gwynns Falls separates Dickeyville, a historic community, and Hillsdale Heights, which dates to 1955.

"I see some tension and friction with the way things were presented," commission member Gary Brooks said before the vote. "The part of mending and trying to move forward is going to be difficult for both communities."

Members of Hillsdale Heights Neighborhood Association want Hillsdale Road to be extended and 24 single-family homes, costing an average of $230,000, to be built. Approval for the subdivision was given in 1965, but serious efforts to develop the project began about seven years ago, said Vera P. Hall, former city councilwoman and president of the Hillsdale Heights association.

Hillsdale Heights residents spent $260,000 on the land for the proposed development.

Susan Williams, of the Planning Department, said the proposed development meets all zoning standards, provides for a forest conservation easement and includes a 30-foot buffer.

Dickeyville residents say the proposed subdivision would be too dense; would exacerbate pollution problems caused by an illegal combined sewer outfall ---where sanitary and storm water are discharged into the same pipe; would destroy too many trees; and would disrupt the vistas from their homes. The subdivision would be built atop a hill overlooking the Gwynns Falls and some Dickeyville homes.

Dickeyville residents expressed outrage yesterday that Hillsdale Heights did not know about the combined sewer outfall until a meeting last week with the Dickeyville association. They said it showed poor planning.

But Hillsdale Heights residents say they have worked with public works and planning officials for months without anyone mentioning the combined sewer outfall.

"DPW can work with the engineer and come up with an alternative plan," said Winfield Willis of Hillsdale Heights.

Commission member Rochelle "Rikki" Spector said she thinks the project will be approved. "My sense is they'll have no problem and will be able to accomplish a successful engineering solution," said Spector, a member of the City Council.

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