ELLICOTT CITY, Md. — A new development plan is getting underway to help protect the Historic Ellicott City after unmitigated flooding.
It happened in 2016 and 2018, and now, just as work is getting underway to help protect Historic Ellicott City, a proposed development atop one of the hills surrounding it is drawing fire from opponents.
“This is the last 60 acres of 600 acres that have been cleared and scraped immediately above the Old Ellicott City Water Shed, and this particular Phase 1, Taylor Highlands, it drains exclusively on to Main Street,” said County Council member Liz Walsh.
Taylor Highlands, as the project is called, is coming before the Howard County planning board during a virtual hearing on Thursday and there’s concern over its massive scale.
Phase 1, alone, calls for the construction of more than 250 luxury apartments and townhomes along College Avenue, which is one of the county’s scenic roads.
That designation requires a setback of a hundred feet or more, while critics say this developer is trying to whittle that down to a 75-foot buffer.
“Their argument is sort of, ‘Well, the scenic road has changed since 1994 so let’s change it some more.’ You know. ‘Let’s get more variances',” said Preservation Howard County President Stephen McKenna. “That’s a little bit like arguing that, ‘The river is already polluted. Let’s pollute it some more.’”
Even if the project clears that hurdle, some opponents say they’ll appeal to planners’ common sense as a matter of public safety.
“I’m never going to be okay with clearing forests in the Old Ellicott City Water Shed,” said Walsh. “It is madness. It is self-defeating and, again, in a particular location like this where there is not even a plan for downstream flood works. It is awful.”
We reached out to the land owner and planners on the project, but no one has offered any comment.
The virtual hearing gets underway Thursday night at 7:00.