Although they failed to get the County Commissioners to approve the largest rezoning request ever in Carroll, the developers of an Eldersburg-area farm still hope to plant 108 homes and a $3 million golf course.
"Of course, we're disappointed with the decision," said J. Brooks Leahy, the Westminster attorney for Louis J. Iaquinta, the general partner of Woodfield Partnership of Montgomery County, the farmland's developers. "But (Iaquinta) is very tenacious. He's still interested in developing the project."
For more than three years, Iaquinta and Woodfield have been trying to persuade the county to rezone the 360-acre South Carroll farm owned by Claude R., Edwin E. and Glen I. Rash.
Although the Rash family has farmed the tract at Eden Mill Road and Route 97 for more than60 years, development opportunities have become more attractive as agricultural enterprises become less profitable.
Woodfield's proposal would be the first such golf course and luxury home development inthat part of the county. It would feature a $3.5 million golf coursesurrounded by 108 homes at a projected cost of about $375,000 each.
The commissioners turned down Woodfield's proposal to change the parcel's zoning from agriculture to a combination of agriculture and conservation uses, saying to approve the change "without conducting a comprehensive examination of the most appropriate present and future zoning for the other properties in the area would be precipitous and could seriously undermine the viability of the master plan."
Leahysaid Woodfield views the call for a comprehensive examination of theSouth Carroll area as the next opportunity for the project.
"While my client has not made any final decisions, I'm pretty sure
we're not going to appeal the commissioners' decision," Leahy said. "I think we'll wait to hear what comes of the comprehensive rezoning."
The commissioners have called for that rezoning to be completed within a year-and-a-half, an unusually short span for such action.
Woodfield also has another option to pursue as the rezoning occurs.
The developer has had what is called a text amendment to the county's zoning ordinance pending for several years. That would enable the golfcourse development to proceed without fully changing the master plan, and it would apply just to the Rash property. Approval of the text amendment is considered unlikely, however.
What Woodfield will notdo is develop a project that is significantly scaled back, company officials said. During the second four-hour public hearing on the rezoning in March, Iaquinta testified that any project that consists of fewer than 108 homes would be economically disastrous and would make development of the golf course unviable.
Under its current zoning, the Rash farm can accommodate a golf course and 25 homes, a combination Woodfield would not pursue, Leahy said.
Should the project be developed as Woodfield wants, the county would receive more than $8.2 million in taxes and fees over the next 20 years.
According to calculations presented during the March public hearings, Claude Rash said that the parcel would generate more than $409,300 a year in property and other taxes. He also said that building permit charges and developer impact fees would mean a one-time payment to the county of about $540,000.
Woodfield and the Rash brothers are expected to meet soon to renegotiate their purchase agreement. Terms of the current agreement have not been disclosed.