Sunday, September 27, 2009


About fifteen years ago, The Forest Diner gave me my first job. I was a waitress. Dolly* taught me how to use the milkshake machine. I quickly learned which regulars needed cream for their coffee and which would be asking for a slice of pie as well. If my dad didn't stop in and leave me an $18.00 tip on a $2.00 coffee, I averaged about $15 a shift (including the usual $2.50 hourly waitress rate). It wasn't much, but it was just what a teenager of my trouble-making capacity needed.

A few years ago, I watched the Double TT Diner open up (another) franchise location right next door to "the diner." Not too long after, I saw Dolly working at that new Double TT. This weekend, I read this article in The Baltimore Sun about the development plans for the 5-acre property and am just plain disappointed. Larry Carson reports:

"... A coalition of developers, lawyers and landowners wants to remake the 5-acre commercial property into an urbanized mixed-use center with retail space and offices under perhaps 30 residential units in two- and three-level "Main Street"-style buildings.

A new home would be built to accommodate Edgar Weal, who lives on the property, above a new ice cream store on the first floor, close to where the stand is now.The rest of the complex would be a series of low buildings snaking through the hilly site joined by a bridge arch and marked by a tall clock tower. Roughly where the diner is now, the buildings would be three stories facing east, and two stories facing west, Oh said.

Parking for the upper-level apartments would be in the rear, off Frederick Road. Only westbound traffic could turn into that lot and exiting vehicles would only turn right.Another entrance would be off U.S. 40, though more narrow than the current access, with a third access point from the Double-T Diner next door. The current motel, diner and two homes facing Frederick Road would be demolished. The new buildings would include about 50,000 to 60,000 square feet.

To be built, the group would need to persuade the zoning board to rezone an adjacent 1-acre parcel just east of the motel from residential to commercial, get County Council approval of two zoning regulation amendments, and work out a way to guarantee the 30 residential apartments, which the developers said are needed both for the architectural design of the complex, and also to make it work economically... "

Read the full article here.

I'm all for the idea of making new development as green as possible - but there just isn't really a reason for new development in this location except, well: $$$. Howard County is already one of the wealthiest counties in the nation, with stellar school districts and a host of strip malls and McMansions. There are tons of restaurants and every store you could ever need on Route 40 already - not to mention in nearby Columbia. I'm just saying... can't we preserve this one lovely little diner and the history it holds? Does anyone really need a new clock tower?

If you're a local and find this Forest Green development as unnecessary as I do, I'll see you at the informational meeting this Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Miller Library/Senior Center on Frederick Road - assuming that hasn't been replaced with multi-use buildings by then. Ugh.

*Note: I feel terrible about this, but I can't recall if her name is Dolly or Darlene or something else with a D - so I went with Dolly. If anyone knows, please feel free to comment.


becky said...

Please save the Forest Diner!

Deborah said...

I think her name is Dorothy. I think I just remembered. Also... tried to go to the Forest Diner on Sunday and they closed at 4pm :-(

Amy said...

I agree with your 'green' is it to tear down a perfectly fine building for the sake of capitalism?

Safe to assume this 'coalition' didn't grow up with reverence for Soft Stuff and Forest Diner?

How did the informational meeting go over?