Farmers, Now Developers, Call Plan Community Asset

February 24, 1991|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff writer

Claude R. Rash stood in front of a room full of his neighbors Thursday and said he and his two brothers don't intend to "make a bundle and then walk away" when they develop their South Carroll farm.

Claude and Glen I. Rash, who live on the farm, said they want to live in homes in a golf course development they are planning for their property.

The family has owned the land since 1928, and the three brothers have invested much time and sweat it since the 1950s, Claude Rash said. Three years ago they retired and decided to develop the farm, nearEldersburg and Sykesville at Route 97 and Eden Mill Road.

"We'd like it to be an asset to the community," he said.

Before they can make changes, though, the County Commissioners must agree to rezone the 360 acres. About 80 people attended a three-hour public hearing Thursday in which the commissioners heard testimony about the plan.

Because testimony ran longer than expected, the commissioners will continue the hearing at 9:30 a.m. March 7 in Room 07 of the County Office Building. At that time, the developer, Woodfield Partnership of Montgomery County, will present its plan.

Some neighbors are concerned that plans for a golf course will fall through and that more than the planned 108 homes will be built. They say they're worried about overcrowded schools, traffic tie-ups and problems with water runoff, among other things.

Others say they'll welcome the 18-hole public golf course and estate homes because they're probably a better alternative than what could be proposed in the future.

At the hearing, 29 people signed up to testify in favor of the plan, 35 as opponents.

Last year, the county Planning Commission, the county planning department staff and the director of the state Office of Planning recommended against rezoning the land from agriculture to Residential-40,000 and conservation. Agriculture zoning allows one home per 20 acres; R-40,000 one house per acre; and conservation one house per three acres.

Building homes on the farm would not be in accordance with thecounty's master plan and could cause "growth pressures" in an area that's becoming increasingly suburban, officials said.

The Rashes say change in the neighborhood is one reason they stopped farming. At the height of their operation, they farmed 3,000 acres, including a tract adjacent to their farm that now is the Streamwood housing development.

But the increase in traffic made it hard to move equipment from one field to another, and much of the land they had rented was being sold for development, Claude Rash said.

Woodfield plans to build 108 homes priced between $300,000 and $375,000, with a golf course on 160 to 170 acres. The average lot size would be 1 to 1 acres, said Louis J. Iaquinta, a general partner.

Even if the golf course is not built, the maximum number of homes that could be built would be141 because of slopes and wetlands on the property, said J. Brooks Leahy of Westminster, attorney for Woodfield.

Claude Rash said the contract with Woodfield states specifically that a golf course and 108 homes will be built on the land.

"If they don't live up to the contract, they're out," he said.

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