Waverly Woods Is A Planned Step In Right Direction

682-acre Project Free Of Piecemeal Flaws

September 08, 1991|By Donald R. Reuwer Jr.

The Waverly Woods project is a departure from past growth in the Ellicott City area. One needs to only look at what has occurred since 1985 in the neighborhood of Howard County that is bounded by Route 40, Marriottsville Road, Bethany Lane and the Patapsco River.

Simply, there have been about 1,155 dwellings developed in a six-year period.

Each of these developments is quite attractive and has added in its own way to Howard County. However, the overall quality of life in the area could have been improved had they been developed with an overall "master plan."

When one looks at the number of square feet that have been constructed for commercial and office uses in the same neighborhood during the last eight to 10 years, the numbers are equally amazing.

When one looks at the commercial buildings, we find (with few exceptions) that they are architecturally uninspired, poorly sited on the land and relatively void of any open space.

Additionally, many of them are of the worst possible type of commercial strip development.

They are void of any pedestrian access and do not evenlink adjoining parking lots; but rather require motorists and pedestrians to traverse Route 40 from one site to the other.

Given the magnitude of what I have described thus far, I have to shake my head in disbelief that anyone could be opposed to the Waverly Woods project.

Here, three adjoining property owners have attempted to develop a master plan for the development of their land over a 20-year period. The plan shows that of a total of 682 acres, there would be residential and planned center development of 284.9 acres.

Given the recent scope of prior development in the neighborhood, the 936 units proposed by the plan over 20 years is extremely modest. The 1.5- to 1.7-million square feet proposed in the plan do not seem out of line with historical trends of the neighborhood.

(We must caution ourselves,however, that while the square footages of commercial development may be similar to what has occurred in the past eight years, there is little or no comparison between the strict regulations of a planned Employment Center attempting to attract corporate users in a campus-like park with what has occurred along Route 40.)

Clearly the GTW Group could have opted to continue the piecemeal, unplanned developed pattern that has occurred in this neighborhood. However, to its credit,it chose differently.

The proposal is put forth as "Site Plan Zoning." In essence, Site Plan Zoning makes all of the pretty pictures part of the zoning that is granted and locks the developer into delivering what was promised. I see many advantages to this comprehensive approach:

* 1. Predictability -- Once the site plan is adopted, theentire community will know exactly what will be developed on this massive piece of land.

* 2. Adequate phasing -- The developers' 20-year plan and the fact that this project will be subject to adequate-facilities laws will ensure that the property is developed when services are available.

* 3. Environmental protection -- The clustering of the development on 41 percent of the site, thereby leaving 59 percent of the site for the golf course and open space, means that the development will be one of the most environmentally sensitive developments done to date in the Ellicott City area. This type of development is in harmony with the initiatives issued by the governor's "20/20 Commission," which advocated "clustered" developments on sites sewered by public utilities as a method to better protect the Chesapeake Bay and tributaries.

* 4. Public amenities -- In a project of this size, the developers are able to provide "public space" that enhances the entire quality of life in a given neighborhood. In addition to the public golf course, we will be building a community pool and community tennis courts, which will be an asset not only to this community but to the surrounding area.

* 5. Architectural harmony -- As part of the master plan and Site Plan Zoning, we have put forth architectural guidelines that, because of the Site Plan Zoning case, will ensurethat the entire project has an architectural compatibility that has not heretofore been seen in the Ellicott City area. All of the structures are to be done in a high quality manner using traditional architecture that is to be compatible with the existing Waverly Mansion.

* 6. Reduction of automobile dependency -- The plan, because of its mixed-use nature, will dramatically reduce the community's reliance upon the automobile. The entire project is linked through sidewalks and jogging paths so it is possible for the residents to walk to shopping or work. Given the campus-like setting that will be created in theemployment part of the project, jobs should be available for professional, administrative, clerical and service fields. This should allowfor at least one of the wage earners in each family to work within the development.

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