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Greenspring Quarry Plan Closer

     
  Barbara Pash  Assistant Editor
MARCH 09, 2004
 
 
  The Greenspring Quarry development plan is likely to soon be approved by Baltimore County. The hearing on the quarry plan was held March 11 before county zoning commissioner Lawrence Schmidt.

Three days had been set aside for the hearing but it ended in one day, and while Mr. Schmidt has 15 days to issue a written decision, he indicated his probable approval.

At the hearing, there was almost near unanimity between the developer, Steven Koren of the Columbia-based Koren Development Co., and the community on all issues. Even Mr. Schmidt commented on how unusual it was to reach this stage in the county development process and not have some disagreements, especially in a project of this magnitude.

The two main issues that still existed were resolved by the end of the hearing. One was the interconnection of Lightfoot Drive; the other, a deceleration lane on Greenspring Avenue.

The quarry ceased operations in 1999. Since then, based on a 1984 covenantal agreement with community groups and adjacent property owners, and a 1999 agreement with the County Council, the 258-acre site in Pikesville is being developed into a mixed-use project of residential units, office-retail buildings, a lake and a public park. The quarry's owner, Florida Rock Industries, chose Mr. Koren to develop the property.

On the issue of the interconnection of Lightfoot Drive, there are currently two Lightfoot Drives, east and west, both of which dead-end. The developer plans to build 12 houses on the east side of Lightfoot Drive that loops into the quarry property, and end the road in a cul-de-sac.

The community and the developer were against connecting Lightfoot Drive. The county Department of Public Works, which originally had requested that the two Lightfoot Drives be connected, was willing to settle for the developer granting it a 50-foot right-of-way for a future connection.

Several area residents, among them Neville Jacobs, president of the Pikesville Greenspring Community Coalition, an umbrella for 20 neighborhood groups, testified against the connection, arguing it would increase traffic on their neighborhood street. Robert Bowling, of the county public works department, argued that the county always intended to connect Lightfoot but could not do so because the quarry portion had been privately owned.

In the end, Mr. Schmidt agreed with the community, saying that he would eliminate the Lightfoot Drive interconnection from consideration.

On the issue of a deceleration lane, the community wanted, and the developer was willing to build, a deceleration lane on Greenspring Avenue for a "pod" of six single-family houses that will be built at the north end of the quarry site, and will have its own, separate entrance onto Greenspring. The county opposed a deceleration lane for environmental reasons.

Robert A. Hoffman, Mr. Koren's attorney, came up with a compromise in which a shortened deceleration lane would be built outside the environmental area. This appeared acceptable to all sides, thus resolving the last of the two impediments to the quarry development plan.

Mr. Neville, on behalf of PGCC, also entered into the record a document signed by PGCC, Mr. Koren and other parties involved in the development of the site.

The document was an agreement by all parties that resolved all of the issues raised at the county-required community input meeting on the quarry, held last September. Mr. Jacobs read each issue and, after meetings between PGCC and the developer, the resolution that had been reached.

For example, the developer is donating 22 acres of land for a park. The park will be open during daylight hours for public use but will be owned and maintained by the quarry's homeowners and business associations. The county had asked that the park include a tot lot and picnic area but PGCC and the developer wants it to be a strictly passive park, with walking paths.

Mr. Schmidt polled representatives of all the county agencies involved in the development process. Except for the public works department, all issues had been resolved before the hearing.

A traffic study shows that the development will generate 19,500 trips daily onto Greenspring Avenue, the access to the development. This would be in addition to the existing, equivalent traffic on Greenspring Avenue, for a combined total of an estimated 50,000 trips per day.

The landscaped median fronting the quarry site along Greenspring Avenue, which itself will be widened to a five-lane road, has been modified and a left-turn lane added.
The quarry's interior loop road will become a county public road; the homeowners association will be responsible for snow removal but the county has agreed to take care of maintenance and repairs.

The plan calls for 593 residential units, including 83 single-family houses, 270 condominiums in the north end and 240 condos along the lake, in the south end of the site. The houses will be scattered throughout the site, although 60 will be concentrated in the south end, including the 12 on Lightfoot Drive.

There will also be a 287,500-square-foot office space with areas for four restaurants; a 60,000-square-foot retail space; a 97,000-square-foot, 125-room inn; and a 6,000-square-foot community center. The community center will have a swimming pool and tennis courts; it will be for residents' use only, but the center itself will be available for PGCC functions.

Mr. Neville also gave details of an agreement on the lake and required dam, as well as Moore's Branch, a stream that winds through the quarry site and eventually spills into the Jones Falls.

Since quarry operations ceased, the quarry has been allowed to fill naturally as a lake, the centerpiece of the site. It will take another three to six years for the 40-acre wide, 500-foot deep lake to fill to the 350- to 370-foot surface elevation range.

Concerns were expressed about the design and resulting integrity of the dam, given the surface elevation of the future lake. Mr. Jacobs said this issue had been satisfactorily resolved with the developer.

Mr. Koren has said he expects to be finished with the land reclamation phase of the project this year. He is far enough along to begin development of the site.

   
   
 

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