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Proposed North Laurel development to be modified after community voices concern

A North Laurel property slated to become a subdivision will receive multiple adjustments amid concern from nearby residents.

The Milk Producers Cooperative Association plans to sell land located next to their factory due to the decline of dairy consumption, tariffs on dairy exports and expanding debt, association Chief Financial Officer Joe Cowell previously said. During a mid-March meeting, residents voiced concerns over the development’s density and potential impacts on traffic and flooding.

The owners have proposed installing a buffer of at least 100 feet along Gorman Road. A second buffer of at least 50 feet would be placed along Leishear Road. The move will shave off three units of the property, decreasing it to 394 homes.

In an attempt to ease residents’ apprehension, the owners plan to install a 1,200-foot bike and pedestrian path throughout the development to connect it to Hammond Elementary and Middle schools, Gorman Crossing Elementary School and Murray Hill Middle School. The sidewalk goes 950 feet beyond what the county can compel developers to place on properties.

The property owners previously proposed placing two circles to mitigate traffic flow. They said they will study alternative traffic management solutions and settle on one in the future. The alternatives they can study include adding turning lanes or a signal, depending on the traffic volumes.

Owners will also include “stormwater mitigation elements in the drainage area that will serve those locations that meet the 25-year storm event standard for sump inlets,” the owners said in a letter to the county. They plan to propose installing sumps, which are pumps that remove water accumulated at low points, in the vicinity of Gorman Road and increase the size of pipes and inlets.

Councilwoman Christiana Mercer Rigby, a Democrat whose district includes North Laurel, said in a statement that she is thankful for the “engagement of the community, the Milk Producers and the county.”

“We have a vastly improved proposal that will ensure enhanced environmental protection and strengthened stormwater management measures, as well as safe and complete streets for the area.”

A Milk Producers spokesman declined to comment.

In the letter to the county, Milk Producers CEO Jan Bryant said, “Our ability to achieve our financial goals will help ensure the ongoing viability of our milk processing operations well into the future.”

Karen Beck, a resident who has been spearheading community engagement, in a statement thanked Rigby and county officials for addressing the community’s “concerns regarding issues such as pedestrian safety, stormwater management, and development setbacks beyond the specifications outlined by current county regulations, and at/beyond the proposed scenic road requirements.”

She added, “Many issues still need to be addressed relative to schools and traffic in the future, and we trust the county to continue to work with us to preserve and enhance the quality of life that we enjoy in our community.”

“After extensive dialogue over the past few months between my office and members of the community, I appreciate the efforts of the Milk Producers to listen to residents and act as good neighbors to the community," said Howard County Executive Calvin Ball said in a statement.

"The result of our hard work and collective efforts is a project that better protects our environment, enhances public safety, and improves our streets,” he added.

Read more Howard County Times news. »

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