Sunday, June 29, 2008

Public forum

I totally forgot that County Executive Ulman hosted a public forum (aka came to listen to complaints) at the Glenwood Community Center last week. The two big issues that were discussed were mostly west county based problems (not surprising). Those two problems were the Cattail Creek septic issue and the issue of a used car lot in Daisy.

The Cattail septic issue was a blast from the past. I have not seen much about it in the news for at least a year, and I can't recall why residents are not suing the developer to get their septic issues resolved rather than get the County involved. I hope anyone who purchased a home in this community since these issues came about was able to negotiate a good price. Currently, trucks are coming 5 times a day to remove the "waste". Eeeewwww.

The proposed used car lot in Daisy has me stumped. Unless I am missing something, this is just NIMBYism.

Residents near Daisy, a rural crossroads where corner lots have been zoned since 1954, are vehemently opposed to a used-car business planning to open there.

Despite the zoning, residents say traffic on the twisting, two-lane roads in the area would become more dangerous, and their quality of life would be damaged by the lot.

"I fear for children and recreational users [of the roads]. Save the county from such blight," Wally Carson of Woodbine said.

Later in the article:

On the used-car lot issue, the executive told the crowd that he is ordering another review by county agencies. Because of the long-standing commercial zoning, the owner has the legal right to build a car lot. Shops that repair sports cars and motorcycles occupy another building at the crossroads, and new vehicles are stored on another corner where a bus company once was located, but the corner in question is undeveloped.

If the owners of this lot have had it commercially zoned since 1954, I don't see what the problem is. Did these residents expect this lot to remain vacant forever? I find it hard to believe that a used car lot will be profitable in such a rural location, but that is beside the point. I really don't think that resident complaints are justified in this instance. Maybe the opposing residents can pool together and purchase the lot themselves. Otherwise, let the owner do with it what he or she feels is the best use with the zoning allowed.


Anonymous said...

Zoning is allowed to be modified when encountering a 'change or mistake', meaning that if there was a mistake in the original zoning, or something has changed, then zoning should change.

Since 1954 much has changed and a car lot wouldn't be appropriate. Also, roads do not support it.

Your tax dollars, however, could be used to spend several million to fix the roads so that this single land owner can build a car lot.

Freemarket said...

What kind of used car lot are we talking about here? How many cars will be parked there for sale? How many acres is the lot?

I suspect that all of the traffic worries are typical NIMBY fear mongering. Also, why is a car dealership not appropriate? There are other commercial businesses near that site.

jim adams said...

F.M it is more than NIMBY. There is a question of just how safe the road is going to be.

The roads around this area are all narrow, there is a steep hill which will obstruct a drivers vision as they come over the hill.

This is not a good location for additional traffic.

Without using a crystal ball, my prediction is the first magor car accident will occure within the first 90 days the car lot is open.

Freemarket said...

Then should residential construction within a couple miles of that area stop as well, to prevent additional traffic?

Honestly, I doubt a car dealership will last 90 days in such a rural location.

Crystal Koons said...

Jim Adams- I totally agree. I've long been fighting development in the Western end that draws more traffic to I70. Mark my words- there will be a MAJOR accident on I70 in the next year.

PZGURU said...

WHoa fellas (Anon, Krystal Koons, and Jim),

You all are basing your position on EMOTIONS and not legal standards.

To the first anon commenter - the criteria you quote for changing the zoning of a property is correct, however, this property owner is not petitioning for a chaning in zoning. If the County wants to consider rezoning the property on its own, it could do so whent he next Comp Rezoning is undertaken, which is several years away (the last one was finished recently and still awaiting legal challenges).

Why is a major accident on I-70 relative to the question of the used car dealership. Is the used car dealership located ON I-70? That is just a red herring issue. A major accident could occur on any road, at any time, regardless of what uses/businesses are located thereabouts. If people are driving too fast on the roads, then call the police to request speed traps. You can't penalize this property owner for the behavior of others.

The property owner has a fundamental right to develop his/her property within the parameters of the law, and if the law allows a car dealerhsip then that's that. You can't change the rules in the ninth inning of a ballgame.

I find it very disconcerting that the Executive thinks that he can arbitrarily request additional reviews from DPZ, and require additional traffic studies or improvements beyond what is allowed under the law! It's outrageous! This administration thinks that they can re-write laws without going through the proper legislative process, and I am totally opposed to such actions. And anyone who believes in democracy should be equally outraged.

The Executive's true colors on property rights are showing through on this project.

jim adams said...


You are absolutly right, I have expressed more emotion than abstract thought and knowledge of the law.

I am glad you bring balance into this discussion, I appreciate your legal approach to the discussion. I to have a great respect for the Law.

I am not asking that the law be broken, but I am requesting that wiser and more legally minded individuals review what is happening in this situation.

It looks like greed is manifesting itself over common sense, and doing so at the expense of others while disguising itself behind the law.

The expression of emotion in what is preceived as a wrong is a strong symptom that there is need for discussion if not change.

I stand by my emotions until someone covinces me that there is no danger in what is being defended by the law.

The decisions we make in life are like a three legged stool, one leg for the law, one leg for logic, and one leg for emotion.

It looks very much like the weak leg is the law.

The emotions are correct, they are centered on individual saftey.

The logic is correct when you review the self evident facts by looking at the geographical site for this enterprise.

It is the law that is not supporting what is best for those who have to live with the future outcome.

You often see lady law with her eyes covered, it doesn't mean her ears are plugged so she can not hear emotion, nor her mind blocked so she can not comprehend logic.

Lets do what is right and uncover the eyes of law, even if it takes a little emotion and logic.

Anonymous said...


The issue is NOT traffic, goodness sakes.

It's the safety of the tractor-trailer bringing in truckloads of cars people! It WOULDN'T fit on that road. The lot is to hold 150+ cars.

how's that for emotion?

Aye yay aye.

PZGURU said...

How often would a trailer be making such a delivery? Once a month? Once every 6 months? Personally, on a business level, I think the dealership will be a failure. However, if that property owner wants to take a crack at success, he has the right to do so.

Based on the trailer argument, the 7-Eleven store on Frederick Road, just down the street from the County offices, should be shut down. They have a tractor trailer make weekly deliveries while parked along the side of Frederick Road, blocking sight distance in both directions, and sometimes hanging partially into the actual travel lanes.

I don't even buy the tractor trailer argument. If someone sold their house and used a tractor trailer to move their belongings, nobody would blink about that, would they? How is this any different?

Jim - I might agree that the law or zoning designation could use some change. However, there is a process to do so, and to just arbitrarily deny this property owner his/her rights is very UN-democratic.

jim adams said...

I have never spoken in any way to arbitrarily deny the owners current rights.

I am questioning the valitity of the law. Is there anything more democratic ?

If not for the ablitiy, the freedom to question, to be opposed to, would there be a Bill of Rights, would there be admenments to our Constitution.

I believe it is right, and beneficial to all the citizens of our government to accept that we are a land of laws, laws that should be obeyed. BUT we also have a right to disagree and change those laws. That is my main point.

Laws are created by people at a point in time for a specific reason. The people who create the laws die, the point in time passes, and the specific reason fades with the passage of time.

There are different opions, but I believe our Constitution is a living document, because it changes with time and circumstances.

Should we be so attached to the word of the law, should we so unwaving, and nonadaptable that we well force the law on innocent citizens when we know it will increase the probability of personnel damage, possible physical harm, or possibily death.

Pzguru, I think you and I are closer in the manner of dealing with this difference then you may believe, it is just our mode in getting there.

Anonymous said...

I can't tell you how many new mcmansions have popped up along that stretch of road- plus Ed Warfield Road, in the past 15 years. Where was all the public outcry for those tractor trailers hauling building materials? Where are the complaints about the additional traffic brought on by the increase in residents?

Are all those "new" western howard countians now crying foul at the supposed proposed increase in traffic?

Anonymous said...

It's not the traffic. Getting to that corner on an ongoing basis is nothing like stocking a 7-11 - the car carrier just doesn't fit through. And these are not new residents.

Why should my tax dollars go to widen an entire road to accommdate one misplaced car lot?!

I have to wonder about motives when plain facts are ignored.

"Only the fool learns by experience alone". Hey, I guess it'll have to happen to you one day if you're ever going to understand. Good luck with that.

jim adams said...

Anon 11:20, thanks for calling me young.
As a youngster I have been complaining for 30 years about the roads in Howard Co.
I was 36 when I moved to Howard Co. and route 99 was a county road then, before the thousands of families that have started using it since 1978.
I remember cars fighting for their place as they came off of route 29 on to 99.
I remember reading in the newspaper about two seperate times when someone was shooting (yes real guns) at the cars in front of them on 99.
There have been 3 people killed at the intersection I use to get on to 99.
All of this in the 30 years I have lived here, remember 36 when I moved here, so still a youngster.
Because of the community activist for most of that 30 years,(I thought I would bring this up, you ask where was the outcry), in the last 2 to 3 years parts of 99 has been widen. But now we have the tractor trailers making use of the road.
I wish we had mcmansions ( I would even love to own one), instead we have along route 99, what if they were in Baltimore would be called row homes. That means even more traffic. Oh! for the days of mcmansions.
Oh, were I live, even with a Ellicott City Zip code, I am considered Western Howard Co.
I don't mean to have such a bad attitude, but I know where Daisy Md. is heading, and it is not pretty.
Take a ride this weekend to Daisy Md. Ask youself would you want to live there if they build a used car lot in town.
On your way back, even if it is a little out of the way, pick up on route 99. Stop at Woodbine, get a snow ball, and sit on one of the benchs behind the snowball stand.
Look out over the fields, and let your eyes drink in the county setting. This is land for future development.
When you leave the snowball stand drive east, after Mt Hebron School notice how they have widened 99, we in Mt Hebron are proud of that part of the road. It took less them 30 years to do what you will see there, and best of all we are still young enough to enjoy it.
My guess is that Daisy will have their roads widened by 2038, I just hope they are young enough to enjoy it. can get ice cream in your snowball cup and marsmellow on top. They are really good.

Anonymous said...

snowball stand on Rt99 is in Woodstock, not Woodbine.

Anonymous said...

"Despite the zoning, residents say traffic on the twisting, two-lane roads in the area would become more dangerous, and their quality of life would be damaged by the lot."

Sorry- this concern speaks to traffic, not the occasional car carrier. Nice try though!

jim adams said...

Anon:1:02 and 1:08 respectivily

1:02 Dumb me, I just go to the stand for snowballs, not directions. Thanks for reading my comments.

1:08 It was a nice try, the concern is with both traffic and occasional car carrier. I have hear the complaints in public.
You may want to attend the next meeting on Land Use. The date should been published a week or more before the actual meeting on the Howard County Blog.

Elvis said...

Did someone mention McMansions.

Well let me tell you this.

Great men are defined by their homes. Thomas Jefferson's Monticello introduced classic Italian living spaces to the new world.

Frank Lloyd Wright rang in the modern era with a leap forward in matrials, avant-garde design, and use of space.

And Graceland is still teaching us that you just can't have too much shag carpeting or too many fuzzy pillows.

PZGURU said...


Yes I agree that there is nothing prohibiting changing laws, as long as it happens through the proper channels.

I didn't say that you were taking away this person but the Executive and the complaining residents sure are. The zoning class may be completely wrong (I'm not saying it is mind you), but for them to deny the plan because they don't like it is wrong and would be a "taking" as far as I'm concerned. The owner may have invested a large sum of money in this business venture, and if it is denied for political reasons he/she will incur financial damage. If the residents want to buy him out of the business or buy the property, they are free to do so.

The whole argument about "more traffic" and grisly car accidents is bogus. If the standard for denying a development plan is that it created extra traffic, then nothing could ever be built, anywhere. There is a risk of accidents and injury/death on ANY road. That's my point. The residents are acting in a hysterical, emotional manner - and this Country is run on the rule of law, at least the last time I checked. I know that there are lots of officials who feel that they know better than the law and overturn the law based on their whims or depending on which way the political winds blow, as is the case in Howard County, but that is not how a democracy is run.

To the Anonymous "Fool" who said that "only fools learn through experience alone" I say: "Only someone who has never invested money or run a business would say such a foolish thing". If you owned a piece of property and desired to develop it in accordance with the existing zoning laws, how would you feel if the government suddenly, arbitrarily said we don't like your plans? What if youhad spend thousands of dollars on site plans and engineering plans? How would you feel if that money was just flushed down the drain due to emotional hysterics? You might sing a different tune if it was your land in question.

Anonymous said...

Ah. Throwing pearls before the swine. A fruitless endeavor...

Freemarket said...

Anon 5:22- Instead of responding to PZGs valid points, why don't you throw an insult?

jim adams said...

Pzguru, I offer one last response, not to get the last word, but just to respond to your points before I let this go.

You have offered good points, but I am not comfortable with agreeing with you.

I have been to the site in question 3 times, spoke to two residents by phone and a third at a land use meeting. I have never spoke to the owner, and if I were to do the right thing for purpose of understanding, discussion with the owner would be necessary.

If a decision was made for political reasons I would find that as distressing as any other wrong reson in this matter. A decision based on politics is destructive to the rest of us because that decision method could than be used against any one.

You point about traffic and car accidents is NOT BOGUS, it is a real concern. Sitting here in front of my computer, miles from the site in question, I can only use my mine's eye is see the location, and what I see is a dangerous area, a spot on a hill side, small roads on two sides and the on coming traffic in one lane not having a complete view of traffic that could becoming from the left side. I don't see this as hysterical, or emotional, but as a real, well founded concern.

Maybe after discussion with the owner, maybe reviewing a site plan would for ease my concerns, and then I could agree with you, but at this moment my concern is saftey. Good discussion PZGURU.

PZGURU said...


I do have a concern about traffic safety. I drive a car, and believe me, I have had some scary encounters with close calls.

If there is a hill, or blind spot, then I would think that the sight distance study that is required with any site plan application would address that. The hill could be graded down and the road re-paved. I know this has been done in relation to any number of other developments throughout the county.

I guess my point is that people can not just say that because there is a possibility of an accident in that spot, that that is a reason to deny this plan. As I previously stated, an accident could occur anywhere - so if people used that as the litmus test, then no development would be allowed anywhere. I don't think that there will be a large number of customers (ie: new traffic generated) by this particular use, that would exacerbate any pre-existing safety condition along that road. Drivers have a responsibility to use caution if there is a hill or curve in the road, or to not speed, in order to reduce the possibility of an accident. To say that this business is going to cause a rash of accidents does not hold water in my opinion.

It's been a good discussion.