Friday, December 09, 2011

Intermodal Makes for Odd Bedfellows

It wasn’t that long ago that certain resident activists of Elkridge were up in arms about the proposed zoning change to the former Coca Cola property in Hanover. Three years ago, David Scheffenacker asked the county to rezone the 122 acre rail served property from M2 (heavy industrial) to TOD (transit oriented development). Scheffenacker made his case for mixed use based on a tenuous easement connecting the property to the nearby MARC station that dates back to the 1700’s. Residents were further outraged that the school board was considering putting a much needed elementary school in the new development because of its proximity to a CSX mainline.

Councilpersons Courtney Watson and Greg Fox even voted against the rezoning. As Larry Carson wrote a year ago in this article in The Sun, “they argued, industrially zoned land should not be changed for residential use and Elkridge is too congested already.”

Courtney and Greg ended up losing that battle in a three to two vote. County Executive Ken Ulman heavily championed the project and prodded his Dem colleagues on the council to approve the zoning change.

What a difference a year makes. Now that David has gotten his zoning change, he wants to change the complexion of the rest of the neighborhood too. That means no intermodal terminal in Hanover, just a little over a mile away from his development. If the proposed CSX intermodal were to land in Hanover, the trucks servicing the terminal would roll right past his tastefully designed entrance, around the clock. That could certainly put a damper on the upscale "Oxford" image he is attempting to sell. Note that he didn't call the project Hanover Square.

And that’s why this development should have never been approved in the first place, It’s a residential project plopped down in the middle of an industrial district.

But I digress.

The activists in Hanover opposed to having the intermodal terminal in their backyard suddenly have a new ally. According to this article by Elizabeth Janney in Elkridge Patch, David has pledged his legal team to help the community in its fight.

"After talking to your [GECA] committee for the intermodal, we have hired four attorneys to fight this," said Scheffenacker at the Dec. 6 meeting, "and we’ve decided it would be good if our attorneys were your attorneys, too."

As the Arabic proverb goes, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

I haven’t figured out yet if this also means that these residents are now on board with the notion of a middle school being located in David’s development. Less than two months ago they thought this was also a bad idea. David needs that school in order to move his project forward.

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