WESTMINSTER — Less is more, Hampstead builder Martin K. P. Hill says about his proposed Furnace Hills II subdivision.
However, some residents who live near the site said Monday night they aren't convinced.
Hill and partner Richard Maring have requested rezoning for a 74-acre site on which they want to build a mix of 280 housing units, including 157 single-family homes and 105 town houses.
During a public hearing Monday night before the City Council, Hill and Maring argued for rezoning from R-10,000, which allows four homes per acre, to PD-4, which allows about the same density but permits town house clusters.
The builders said a development that includes town houses would generate less traffic, fewer school-age children and less strain onpublic utilities, as well as provide 17 acres of open space.
"It's going to be a very beautiful community," Maring said.
But some residents who testified at Monday's hearing said they weren't so sure.
Some said they weren't persuaded by testimony from consultants hired by Hill. Traffic and land-use planning consultants said their studies showed that a mixed community that consists partially of town houses would produce less strain on utilities than a development of strictly single-family homes.
"We're not against development of the property," said Uniontown Road resident Philip Santana. "We're againstthe rezoning."
Santana said he moved to Carroll from Gaithersburg, Montgomery County, where his former subdivision, Montgomery Village, was ravaged by uncontrolled development.
"If it's done in an organized, controlled manner, that's acceptable," he said of the proposed development, which would be adjacent to the existing Furnace HillsI.
"But I've seen what uncontrolled development can do," Santana said. "You're left forever playing catch-up ball."
Other residentsexpressed concern about the impact Furnace Hills II would have on wildlife.
"All the wildlife is where the houses are going to be," said Robert Morris, a Furnace Hills I resident. "You say you're trying to preserve wildlife, but let's be real. You're pushing it out."
The builders countered that the planned development would leave open spaces and woodlands that would aid existing wildlife.
"We have planned large stands of woodlands in order to maintain some wildlife habitat," said Hill, president of Woodhaven Building and Development Co.
The city Planning and Zoning Commission urged the council to denythe request, citing concerns about impact on roads and schools. No matter what the council decides, it seems certain the land will be developed, city planners say.
If the request were denied, Hill said he still would build an all single-family unit development, acceptableunder the current zoning. In that case, plans would be subject onlyto consideration by city planning staff and the Planning Commission,not the council.
"I think that's a fair statment, that something's going to be there," said Thomas B. Beyard, city planning director. "It may not be tomorrow or next week, but it's going to happen. So you try to get the best plan you can get."
Hill also said that town houses would help remedy a lack of affordable housing for first-time homebuyers in Carroll.
"In this area, (the term) affordable housing draws a picture of high density, subsidies and squalor," Hill said."That is not necessarily what affordable housing means."
Prices for town houses would start in the mid-$80,000s, while prices for single-family units would range from $115,000 to $160,000, Hill told the council.
At the end of Monday's hearing, Council President KennethJ. Hornberger closed the public record on the rezoning petition. The council must render a decision within 90 days.