Friday, February 04, 2011

Grasping at Straws

Back in November I received a late night phone call from Marc Norman, the lead protagonist in the attempts to derail the Town Square at Turf Valley development. Marc had called me to discuss what he considered to be defamatory statements in a post I had written. I should note that, initially at least, our conversation was cordial.

Our little talk eventually returned to his beef with the Mangione family and the shopping center they are building in the Turf Valley community. The site is a little over a mile as the crow flies from his home.

“I can hear the bulldozers from my home,” he informed me somewhat indignantly.

“I’ll bet you can also hear the cars whizzing by on I-70,” I replied, noting that the highway is actually is closer to his home than the shopping center site, "and that noise is constant."

He acknowledged that this was true but insisted that this was different.

I thought about this conversation after I read this story by Larry Carson in The Sun. On Tuesday, the Howard County Board of Appeals rejected Normans appeal of the Planning Board approval of the shopping center project. Jim Walsh, the Chairman of the Board of Appeals was quoted as saying that “Residents' fears "are not enough to overcome the presumption of correctness given the Planning Board.”

The issue this time wasn’t about noise, it was about the potential traffic on Turf Valley Road. Marc and his supporters now claim that the shopping center will dramatically increase the traffic on the community road endangering children, small animals and perhaps even world peace. In fact, the only people likely to use Turf Valley Road to get to the shopping center are Marc and his neighbors. The majority of shoppers visiting the new center will come in off of Marriottsville Road which is adjacent to the site.

“Walsh argued that Norman's own traffic consultant never raised issues about Turf Valley Road, and the board may reverse the Planning Board only if they find a decision was arbitrary or capricious, or was clearly erroneous. "You may not like the Planning Board decision, but you cannot say it is clearly erroneous," he said.”

It’s just like his noise complaint. The opponents continue to grasp at straws in their attempts to derail this project and the food workers union is more than happy to continue to finance their efforts. The union sees any delay in the opening of another non union grocer in HoCo as a victory.

Though this decision was certainly another setback in their efforts it is not the end of the saga. Both sides are awaiting the final ruling from the Court of Special Appeals on the rejection of the petition effort to put this zoning issue up to a referendum. 
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