A Howard County developer and his Westminster attorney presented plans Friday to the Carroll County Board of Zoning Appeals for a 75-unitretirement apartment complex in Eldersburg.
Richard Colandrea of Columbia has requested a waiver, or "conditional use" approval, from the board to allow the apartments as an exception on land zoned for half-acre residential lots.
Colandrea needs the approval before he can continue with the planning process.
The Liberty Meadow project -- which includes three two-story apartment buildings, with 25 units in each structure -- is planned for 6.8 acres on the south side of Liberty Road, east of Route32 and west of the Bonnie Brae subdivision in South Carroll County.
A landscape architect and a property appraiser testified in favor of the project.
The landscape architect said the developer had taken care to preserve sensitive environmental areas and a stream on theproperty.
The appraiser said a retirement development should not adversely affect property values of surrounding residences or businesses.
Several concerned residents who own property adjoining or near the proposed development attended the hearing.
The Carroll Bureau of Housing and Community Development has been working with Colandrea to secure a state low-interest housing loan so rents could be kept affordable for elderly on fixed income, said J. Curtis Turner, community development administrator.
Turner said the proposal is "a great project if it could fly, but it
faces a lot of obstacles."
Ifapproved and constructed, it would be among the three largest retirement apartment complexes in the county, he said.
Some of the obstacles include the sewer hookup moratorium the county has imposed in the Freedom District, bureaucratic delays and complications in arranging public and private financing.
Turner said he is confident the project would be an attractive one.
"He's pretty much an upscale developer," said Turner, adding that Colandrea is working with builders who have done work on Baltimore's Inner Harbor. "These aren't ma and pop guys."
A committee charged with studying housing issues for the county recently determined that Carroll has an insufficient stock of housing for the elderly.
"He wants to make it affordable to the elderly," said Turner. "He's very understanding of the ability of elderly to pay."
Colandrea has proposed several different projects for the parcel since 1979, when he received county permission to convert a single-family dwelling into a real estate office and an antique shop.
Subsequent attempts to establish a fitness center with a jogging path and professional offices were rejected by the zoning board.
In 1987, the board approved a conditional use for a similar retirement apartment complex plan, but two years later revoked the authority because Colandrea did not continue with development plans.
Colandrea said he delayed the project because the county was considering rezoning the tract for commercial use.
He said county economic development officials recommended building retirement housing when he asked what type of use would be most beneficial on the property.