Council Set To Impose Odenton Development Controls Contested Bill Would Require Growth Management

October 03, 1990|By Elise Armacost | Elise Armacost,Staff writer

In a rare show of solidarity, citizens and developers Monday night called for the County Council to wait six months before imposing new growth controls in the Odenton Town Center Growth Management Area.

The standing-room-only crowd that packed the council chambers Monday night has Councilman David G. Boschert, D-Crownsville, on its side.

Boschert, arguing that a deal to bring a MARC train station to town center could fall through if the Odenton growth management plan is approved now, introduced a bill that would delay controls on the entire 2.5-square-mile parcel for six months.

"We procrastinated for 20-some years. What's another few months going to do?" Boschert asked at Monday's public hearing on the growth management bill, based on the recommendations of a county executive-appointed advisory committee.

The council, however, appears set to approve the bill at its Oct. 15 meeting, the last council meeting before the general election. The council adopted 14 amendments recommended by the advisory committee Monday night, and ignored Boschert's motion to table the Odenton bill.

Boschert's attempt to introduce four amendments to ease developer restrictions in the growth area also failed. He withdrew the amendments after receiving no support from the rest of the council.

"Chances are, (the Odenton bill) will stay the way it is," said Councilwoman Maureen Lamb, D-Annapolis.

The bill, based on the work of an 11-member committee of residents and developers appointed by County Executive O. James Lighthizer, would impose additional restrictions for high-intensity development in the Odenton town center zone.

Under the bill, the growth area would be divided into a high-density, 218-acre town center and a less intense periphery. Building heights would be limited to eight stories in the town center and four stories in the periphery, and floor area ratios would be reduced to one-fourth of that allowed under the current town center zoning.

Developers would be required to retain 25 percent of their properties as green space and maintain at least a 25-foot buffer around wetlands, pay for road and sewer upgrades and adhere to environmental protection requirements.

The Halle Co., which owns 90 acres of town center land, is balking at the new restrictions. Company officials argue that if Halle donates land for the MARC train station, builds an intersection at Route 32 and the proposed Town Center Boulevard and constructs the boulevard itself, it should be exempt from some of the new controls.

Stephen N. Fleischman, Halle's vice president, said the company must sign an agreement with the State Highway Administration to build the Route 32 interchange by Friday -- a deal that will cost the company $10 million.

If the amended bill passes Oct. 15, Fleischman said, Halle could abandon plans for the interchange and the train station because of uncertainty over what could be built.

Boschert's moratorium bill also will come up for a vote Oct. 15.

If the moratorium passes, Boschert said he would bring the committee's bill back to the council in December, but would change it to include the periphery only. A new committee would keep working on the town center portion of the Odenton area through the spring.

Without the train station and the Route 32 interchange, Boschert said, the town center will not work, because developers will then resort to high-density residential projects that dump more traffic on existing roads than they can handle.

The three developers on the advisory committee objected to putting the proposed controls in place now. Their minority report contends that the Odenton bill is so restrictive that developers have no incentive to build innovative mixed-use projects with open spaces, pedestrian walkways and other amenities.

The majority of the committee, mostly residents, voted in favor of the new growth management plan.

Committee chairman Col. Alfred Shehab told the council a brief moratorium would be worthless. "If you're going to have a moratorium, after reading this minority report, it would have to be five years, not six months," he said.

In other actions the council:

* Passed a bill granting a property tax credit to homeowners who live within the Baltimore-Washington International Airport noise zone. The credit applies to 77 residential properties that fall within the 75-decibel noise zone and allows a 50 percent rebate on assessments up to $85,000.

* Amended a bill allowing homeowners age 65 and older and disabled homeowners to defer payment on their property taxes. Candidates for the tax deferral must make no more than $30,000 annually.

The amendment lowers the interest rate these people would pay on their deferred taxes from 12 to 6 percent. A hearing on the amended bill is set for Oct. 15.

* Amended a bill authorizing the sale of 10 acres of county land in Severna Park to Woodswise, the Severna Park Elderly Housing Corp.

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