Governor Opens Door For Homeowner, So She Does Same

Houses Near Bwi Moved, Sold To First-time Buyers

August 13, 1991|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,Staff writer

Everything was in place, from the roses on the spinet organ to the tidy row of textbooks in her study. Anita Forney gave one last look around, then opened the door and ushered in the governor with a shy smile.

As cameras flashed and elected officials clustered around, the30-year-old mother proudly showed off her new ranch home, the last of 14 to be relocated from a noise zone near Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

"Oh my, how nice," said Gov. William Donald Schaefer, peering into Forney's bright kitchen overlooking a patch of woods.

Together with County Executive Robert R. Neall and Secretary of Transportation O. James Lighthizer, the governor admired her spotless home during a block party yesterday evening at the new Riviera Heights subdivision in Severn.

The county developed the neighborhood by buying 8.8 acres off Reece Road and moving 14 homes from BWI that were supposed to be demolished when the airport expanded.

Schaefer, who urged statehousing officials to find a way to reuse the houses instead of razing them, said he was pleased with the project.

"I like your house,"he told Forney, looking around again at her living room.

She smoothed her dress and said: "So do I."

A single mother who works part-time and is studying to be a dental hygienist, Forney didn't expect to afford a home of her own for years.

"I'm just tickled with it,"she said. "If it wasn't for this program, I wouldn't have a house for numerous years. I couldn't even afford the rent on a place like this."

The county was able to offer the homes for only $48,000 to $92,000 because the Maryland Aviation Administration bought them from owners living too close to the constant noise of jet planes. Lighthizer, Anne Arundel's former county executive, suggested moving a group ofthe "noise zone" homes to create an affordable community for first-time buyers.

After getting an $80,000 federal Community DevelopmentBlock Grant and chipping in another $178,000, the county bought the land for the Riviera Heights neighborhood in 1989. The first house was moved a year and a half ago, said Kathleen Koch, assistant planningand zoning officer, who oversees community development.

Relocating the houses from the airport "noise zone" only cost $10,000, but theentire project added up to $1.2 million, Koch said. The cost will bepaid off by the mortgages.

When the county began the project, a number of neighbors objected to sticking affordable housing in their midst, Koch recalled. County officials met with the opposing residentsand eventually designed an acceptable project that kept the existingzoning and offered homes to a mix of families, earning incomes from $20,000 to $44,000.

The county saved at least $15,000 on each house by relocating instead of building them, Koch said. Many area businesses, including plumbers, electricians and air-conditioning contractors, "adopted" the homes and installed new fixtures without charging fortheir labor.

Looking at Forney's house, the last house to be relocated and remodeled, Lighthizer said he hoped to encourage similar projects.

"Here it is," he said. "Probably everyone of these families wouldn't be here, in their own homes, without this. It takes some creativity; it takes some extra effort, but it works."

Schaefer and Neall also said they planned to encourage more

partnerships between state and county governments to create affordable housing communities.

Forney couldn't agree more. With every visitor, she talked about her plans for adding trim work to her 2-year-old daughter's roomand installing a swing set.

When asked what she liked best about the three-bedroom house, she didn't hesitate. "It's my own," she said.

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