Groups criticize Marriott's plan for elderly life-care housing

July 12, 1991|By Edward Gunts

Plans by the Marriott Corp. to build its first life-care facility for the elderly in Baltimore County drew sharp criticism yesterday from residents of three communities neighboring the proposed construction site. Residents said that the project was incompatible with their single-family home neighborhoods and would add to traffic problems in the area.

But Marriott representatives, who plan to invest more than $20 million in the project, said they believe the project is compatible and will have less impact on traffic than a town-house development would. They said they hope to address the communities' concerns and obtain the necessary county approvals in time to start construction by late next year.

Larry Reid, vice president of development for Marriott's Senior Living Services division, presented plans to the Baltimore County Review Group that call for construction of a five-story building containing 232 independent liv

ing units and a two-story, continuous-care facility containing 40 "assisted living" units and 40 nursing-care beds.

The proposed development site, a 16-acre parcel near the northwest corner of Charles Street and Bellona Avenue, was for many years part of a 51-acre parcel owned by the School Sisters of Notre Dame. The religious order sold much of its property several years ago to Faust Homes, which has built a luxury town-house development called the Cloisters at Charles. Marriott zTC has a contract to buy the 16 acres for its project from Faust.

Marriott's project, called Stratford Court, would be its first in the Baltimore area and its second in Maryland. One is under construction in Silver Spring. Since entering the elderly housing market in the mid-1980s, Marriott has assembled a portfolio of 13 life-care communities and has five under construction.

The Stratford units would be marketed for $1,400 to $2,400 per month.

During a public hearing, representatives from the Ruxton, Riderwood, Lake Roland, Rodgers Forge and Murray Hill improvement associations voiced concerns about everything from the use of a simulated stucco material on the exterior walls to the possible adverse impact on traffic.

"As a senior citizen, I can say we're not the best drivers," said Pauline Vollmer, a Murray Hill Road resident. She warned that traffic congestion and pollution caused by the development "will surely contribute to the downgrading of our very fine community."

Elizabeth Dunn of Murray Hill and Jean Duval of Rodgers Forge said that they were concerned that the development might fail to attract residents as a life-care center and would be converted to apartments or student dorm rooms, as the Burkshire of Towson project was.

Nancy Horst, president of the Ruxton, Riderwood, Lake Roland Area Improvement Association, said that she believes the project would violate a 1961 Court of Appeals order that said commercial developments and apartment complexes could not be built north of Bellona Avenue, where the Charles Fountain apartment complex is. "We think this is an apartment complex," she said. "We were promised in 1961 that this kind of thing will not be built."

But Julius Lichter, an attorney for Marriott, said that he believed the 1961 order has been superceded by the county's master plan and that Marriott's development is permitted. He and Mr. Reid said that they believe the project meets the definition of an institution.

Part of the project, Mr. Reid said, will be a full-service nursing facility for residents who are unable to live independently.

Review group members David Thomas and Joseph Maranto took no action on the project yesterday, saying they will hold another meeting after the Baltimore County Planning Commission holds a hearing on it July 18. The county's zoning administrator also will hold a hearing on the Stratford Court project July 24.

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