Despite lobbying by some Olney residents, the new Trotters Glen development will not include vehicular access to Emory Church Road, although it will provide access for pedestrians, bicycles and emergency vehicles.
On Monday, the Planning Board approved the preliminary plan and site plan for the Toll Brothers development, which will include 69 new homes to be built on the site of the Trotter’s Glen golf course on Batchellors Forest Road. The plan does not include a connection between Batchellors Forest Road and Emory Church Road.
It’s a decision on an issue that has created a rift in the community.
Martha English, a resident of Emory Church Road and secretary of the Southeast Rural Olney Civic Association, said there were impassioned feelings on both sides.
“I’m pleased with the outcome because I felt that an access would not have been in the best interest of the community, especially since Emory Church is a dead-end road that barely handles the local traffic,” she said. “I understand where the people are living on Batchellors Forest Road are coming from, though, because they have been so heavily impacted by the new development.”
She said she believes time will heal and is hopeful that the civic association will continue.
“I hope everyone looks at the whole picture and accepts the democratic decision,” she said. “We need to move forward as a community, because we will always be neighbors.”
Meg Pease-Fye, speaking as a resident and not on behalf of the civic association, of which she is president, said she is disappointed at the planning board’s decision.
“I am terrified at what is going to happen,” she said. “Traffic has doubled since 2002, and it is already a dangerous road (Batchellors Forest Road).”
As for the future of the association, Pease-Fye said she hopes that the organization can continue. “Although I do think this has left a bitter taste in the mouths of many residents of Batchellors Forest Road,” she said.
Greater Olney Civic Association President Barbara Falcigno testified at the Monday hearing, but left frustrated, she said, after hearing that traffic experts were allowed to assume that the golf course already accounts for more than 600 vehicle trips per day along that road. She disputed that number, saying it was far less. The traffic prediction used by the planning board assumes that the development would only add about 28 trips to the 600 already factored into the planning calculations for road capacity.
“They [traffic experts] subtracted cars that were never there in the first place,” she said. “That means they are only adding 28 trips from the new development.”
Falcigno said that the guideline to maintain a rustic road is less than 3,000 trips per day.
“I am really frustrated that the planning board said they wanted to protect the rustic road status, which is an admirable goal, but my prediction is that after the developments are all built, it will exceed 3,000 trips,” she said. “This is why GOCA advocated for a second access, allowing a safe access to southbound Georgia Avenue.”
There are currently 66 homes on Batchellors Forest Road, which the county has designated a rustic road. Road residents say that the additional traffic, along with required road improvements, will change the rural character of their road, which is a dead end, lined with old trees, and only 14 feet wide at some points. Three new approved developments, Trotters Glen, Batchellors Forest and Stanmore, will nearly triple the number of homes to 185.
“The southeast quadrant of Olney is going to look very different from the way it has in the past, and the way it does today,” Falcigno added.