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Ducketts Lane Planning Continues

The county is reviewing development plans for the school.

While lawyers hash out  on Ducketts Lane in court, the elementary school scheduled to open there by 2013 is moving along in the planning process.

This week, engineers for the future school submitted the site development plan to the Department of Planning and Zoning.

Submission of the plan is a milestone that precedes major development, according to the Department of Planning and Zoning, which must review and sign off on the document before construction begins.

The Ducketts Lane elementary school site development plan encompasses 34 pages outlining elements from drainage to fencing to crosswalks.

Because building the school entails cutting down trees—in its current form, the site is a wooded lot—the plan calls for planting trees elsewhere.

Bollman Bridge Elementary School in Jessup will be the recipient, gaining approximately 5.07 acres of conservation area by its baseball fields, according to the plan.

The school system also said it would pay a fee in lieu of reforestation for an additional acre; that amount was not disclosed in the plan. According to the 2011 guidelines from the Department of Planning and Zoning, the fee-in-lieu of reforestation for an acre falls between $32,670 and $41,382.

In addition, the school system will have to "provide greater habitat diversity and potential" to an existing wetland system, according to the plan, in exchange for developing where there is a wetland on the Ducketts site.

Currently, Department of Planning and Zoning officials are reviewing the documents, but it could be months before construction occurs, since the . A lien on the property has caused the transfer to come to a standstill, and the Howard County Board of Education has against the seller—Ducketts Ridge LLC—as a result.

This week, the Howard County Circuit Court filed a Jan. 10 judge’s order granting an injunction against the property owner, stating that Ducketts Ridge cannot sell the property to anyone else or "take any action to otherwise encumber the title to the property" until the issue is resolved through the courts or the Howard County Board of Education terminates the contract of sale.

parents last month that planning should be on track, as long as the sale takes place before the spring.

The timetable for development is approximately 19 months, according to the site development plan.

In the final months, the plan calls for installing sidewalks and widening Ducketts Lane.

Tammy B. January 20, 2012 at 12:10 PM
This is ridiculous!! The County is still not listening to the residents that live in this neighborhood. Yesterday at 3:00, there was a traffic jam on Ducketts due to several cars attempting to make a left onto Route 1, this is only going to get worse! Maybe all of us residents that are being shafted by the County should start sending in photos and video so that the Planning Board and Public Works officials get it thru their thick skulls! And I have a great idea... how about you leave our damn trees alone and build your school on a better suited piece of property? Does it make sense to anyone else to cut down established trees that have been growing for over 20 years, just to plant new ones? This County is doing things ass backwards lately and the residents are getting fed up!
Heather January 20, 2012 at 03:15 PM
So lets leave the trees that having been growing for 20 years and forget about the overcrowding in our schools who sounds thick headed now. If you have a better suited piece of property in mind I am sure the county would love to know where it is. Instead maybe you think its a good idea to build the school next to the inter model they plan to put next door. At least it would save our trees on Duckett's Lane. So unless you have a real idea maybe its best to leave it to the planning and development board. I live in the Ducketts Lane neighborhood also and I have young kids that would go to this school so I am all for them putting it there.
djp952 January 20, 2012 at 05:33 PM
What leads you to believe that the children of Duckett's Lane will be attending this new school? The school is necessary due to the influx of populous mainly south of us, those children need a place to go as well and Duckett's will be the best location for them. Our children are more likely to remain at Elkridge Elementary or Rockburn. As far as planning, that's not something Howard County does well. This site is not part of a plan, it's part of a knee-jerk reaction necessary because our County believes that the more people they can cram in, the better it will somehow be. They allowed a rediculous amount of development to start without having any kind of "plan" at all. There was seemingly no consideration for the capacity requirements of our infrastructure, schools included. Planning would be when we read the article that HC has selected the site for the High School these children will attend in a few years, but alas that's not the case. I'm against the site myself, but not specifically because of the trees or the Route 1 intersection (although that factors in). I'm against it because it doesn't make sense. No reason to deluge anyone with old arguments as to why, but doesn't it bother you at all that they raze 8 acres of woodland/wetland in Elkridge and use our tax dollars to turn around and improve 5 acres in Jessup? Next to an existing school? Really?
Angela S January 20, 2012 at 05:33 PM
I think it is great that the county is going to replace the trees it is cutting down on another site and improve another wetland in exchange for what they are doing on the Ducketts Lane site. I think it is great practice to put back what you have lost.
Tammy B. January 20, 2012 at 07:57 PM
Heather, Actually my "tree comment" was in sarcasm to the idea that somehow we would all feel better about the project due to the fact that the County would plant trees somewhere else, I mean really?? Take your blinders off before you bump into something or someone. I have lived in this community for over 20 years and still call it home, I'm entitled to my opinion. I do oppose the school for the following reasons: trying to make a left onto Route 1 is IMPOSSIBLE now and will only get worse once there are 20 school buses trying to do it both in the a.m. and p.m, the amount of land does not meet the requirement for a school according to the Planning Board but they are willing to cram it in anyway, there would be increased traffic on Ducketts due to the school day and other events held there so it would be more congested than now and lastly they are building the school for children that don't even live in this area and will be bussing children in, your children aren't even slated to attend the school. So as far as I'm concerned, let them put it in there neighborhood! In addition with the Casino, Intermodal & Tennis Facility we are all going to be sitting in bumper to bumper traffic just to run simple errands. The school is being built for children who will be living in the new neighborhood by the Intermodal, so before you call people thick-headed for making a sarcastic remark you should know the facts. Thanks for your input though, hope you can get out to run errands!
sdmd January 20, 2012 at 11:16 PM
I agree that this is not an ideal site. I am also concerned about the widening of Ducketts Lane? On which side? My town home borders Ducketts Lane. I cannot even imagine the number of cars for any school event, such as a band concert. Where are they going to park as the proposed parking lot will not hold them? There are plenty of other sites such as further down route 1 where all the land is already cleared. It seems to me that we on the eastern end of the county do not have as much "pull" as the folks on the western end, so all development gets dumped on us. And yes, why should Bollman get the trees? What about Elkridge Elementary?
edb January 21, 2012 at 01:01 AM
@sdmd....the land further up Rt 1 is cleared for the development of more homes. Unfortunately, the powers that collect tax dollars think money first and infrastructure second. Build it and they will come......but educate the masses of children, that comes later. And you're right about Western HoCo, but also add in Columbia and Ellicott City
Robert Judge January 21, 2012 at 01:32 AM
This is the time to start demanding a traffic signal at Route 1 and Ducketts Lane. I am surprised that we do not have accidents on Route 1 northbound at Ducketts, the left turn lane is too short and will certainly not be able to handle the school bus traffic. There are no problems that cannot be overcome by good planning. But since our Howard County government is not capable of good planning, it is up to us to point out this need.
Jack January 21, 2012 at 03:42 AM
I am interested in the sound wall at Route 95 which never materialized, can you even hear each other at rush hour? I am interested in how many children are coming to the route 1 corridor which I believe is 6 to 10 thousand , The folks out west did the overcrowding thing, people like BOE member Aquino and then they just closed their eyes. What is the word, incompetent. Here is how it works, we have great schools, 92% go to college (you are not told over 50% need remedial ed and 70% drop out) These so called great schools fuel the economy, the bait which lures in the money and drives out those who can.t afford to live here(like hcpss graduates). The charade is over, the money is gone, there are NO school sites but no one has been held accountable. Jack
BK January 24, 2012 at 03:42 PM
First of all - I hope they do not cut down the trees until the land legally belongs to Howard County. Given the track record, they will cut down all the trees AND Howard County will never legally own the land. Secondly - Jack has this completely right. Howard County is worried about their revenues from building homes. Right now they are stalled because the schools are overcrowded. If I recall correctly, the builders over at the Oxford Square site alone are proposing 900 residences! The original plan for Ducketts Lane was a 600 seat school. I believe that has been upped to 700 on a site that is 40% smaller than the guidelines. This mess is all the result of poor planning. About 10 years ago when the county was going through its Route 1 revitalization, I sat in hearings telling the board that the infrastructure (roads, schools, businesses) were not in place in Elkridge to handle the revitalization. During this time, I learned that revitalization meant density - not cleaning up the crappy looking sites along Route 1. They didn't listen and now we will all pay the price. Personally I hope the land is held up in litigation indefinately. That way I can get closer to retirement and move from the congested dumping grounds that is now known as Elkridge.
Tammy B. January 24, 2012 at 04:09 PM
Well said Becky. I am also hoping that this land is held up indefinitely as well. I am no where near retirement but I have lived in the Ducketts community for over 20 years and know first hand the nightmare it is to get out onto Route 1 now and that's making a Right hand turn, I would NEVER attempt a left turn. Elkridge has become the dumping grounds, I wonder how the County Exec, Council Members and Planning Board members would feel if there community was a dumping ground! I'm sure they do everything they can to make sure that doesn't happen over in there affluent neighborhoods of Columbia and Ellicott City! It's like Elkridge is the ghetto of Howard County and quite frankly I'm fed up with it!
Betsy McMillion January 25, 2012 at 02:52 AM
It's a good thing Elkridge is getting another school, but not the high school we wanted and not in the area we wanted. Trees that need to be replaced because of trees removed by new construction should be replaced in our area! I have observed that our developer friends manage to build housing and any other type of development in areas, receiving special exceptions to build them on smaller areas then is normally allowed. Expensive lawyers paid by developers pay off. The developers win and the community that depends on volunteers often lose. A handful of concerned Elkridge neighbors and I several years ago volunteered and spent hundreds of hours attending meetings and testifying in front of the County's Planning Board and elected officials during the last major zoning process in the county to stop the zoning that would allow more housing in our area. We won some battles; lost most. We told the public officials time and time again no new construction until the infrastructure can be repaired. If you want the traffic light changed at Ducketts Lane, you need to contact the folks at Maryland State Highway because this is on a state road. That is how the Harwood Park neighborhood was able to get the working traffic light off of Loudon Avenue. If you want action, you need to get as many neighbors as you can to start emailing and calling our elected government officials and let your voice be heard. It does work, but takes commitment. Good luck to you!

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