Thursday, Jan. 31, 2008

Property raises concern for traffic

Sports leagues optimistic about potential for additional fields; residents of Bill Moxley Road express concerns

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Residents of Bill Moxley Road and Mount Airy sports league representatives voiced concerns and aspirations for the 75-acre property the town is considering for ball fields or a sports complex.

Both groups shared their comments at a Jan. 22 meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Parks and Recreation and the Beautification Commission. The property being discussed is about one mile from town limits off of Md. Route 144 in Frederick County.

Landowners neighboring the property want town officials to consider the traffic impact on Bill Moxley Road as well spillover noise and lighting as they proceed with their research.

Members of the Mount Airy Youth Athletic Association and Four County Little League shared challenges and difficulties with the board about scheduling existing ball fields.

Joseph Evens, who owns the property across from the land being evaluated and who lives closest to it, questioned whether increasing traffic on a road that residents already say has many drivers speeding would be a good idea.

‘‘Everybody’s saying ‘Well, there’s not going to be a traffic problem,’ but there’s been people killed on Bill Moxley Road already, and there is a lot of traffic on Bill Moxley Road,” Evens said.

‘‘We have handled accidents [along Bill Moxley Road],” said Cpl. Jennifer Bailey, Frederick County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman.

She said there have been requests regarding speed monitoring on Bill Moxley Road, and it has been included on a selected enforcement list that indicates roads on which radar enforcement is conducted.

‘‘We have done that on occasion,” Bailey said.

Pat Bostic, Mount Airy Youth Athletic Association president, and Rob Rhodes, Four County Little League president, said their organizations would be willing to help with developing the property should the town pursue it.

‘‘It’s got great potential,” said Bostic, adding that she has been involved with sports in multiple capacities and has visited sports complexes in various parts of the country.

She said parking congestion was a common issue at other ball fields, and she thought there could be ample parking at the Bill Moxley Road property. Because of its distance from its neighbors, it has ‘‘the potential to cause the least amount of problems,” Bostic said.

Bostic toured the site in December with members of the Board of Parks and Recreation and residents. ‘‘It would definitely do nothing but help Mount Airy,” she said.

In addition to providing more fields for youth sports, there is also the potential for recreation options for adults at the site as well as passive recreation activities, said Bob King, board chairman.

The asking price for the property at 4270 Bill Moxley Road, owned by Jim Frye, is $3 million.

The land is not contiguous with the town, and to annex it, the town would need to obtain permission from many landowners who live between the property and the town border.

Councilman Gary Nelson said the town was approached about eight months ago and offered the opportunity to purchase the land and around the same time, the town had been applying for grant money to buy land in Frederick County. The town received $275,000 for land acquisition through Program Open Space.

The town entered into an option contract with the landowner late last year, and is having the land appraised.

‘‘There were a number of reasons that we thought it was advantageous to continue to explore the whole thing,” said Nelson, citing the property’s accessibility from Md. Route 144. ‘‘Although it does border some neighbors, compared to any of the other sites that we’ve looked at — over many years — the neighbors are further away.”

Questions were raised about what development would do to the value of surrounding property and subsequent tax changes.

Nelson, who is the council liaison to the Board of Parks and Recreation, said he has received e-mails from some people concerned about noise and what could be done to create buffers to limit the noise from disturbing neighboring properties.