In the early twilight hours, Ballman Avenue is transformed. Childrenride bikes along the narrow street, while older couples chat and savor the first fall breeze.
The close-knit Brooklyn Park community enjoys the evenings, when the sunset tinges the older homes. Residentswant to keep their street the same for years to come.
Most fear a developer's plans to build 94 homes on one of the last undeveloped properties in the area. The thought of traffic from 83 town houses and 11 single-family residences scares old-timers.
Tomas A. Pavlinic, a Bowie attorney who plans to develop the 11-acre site, has tried to reassure the neighbors, but they remain skeptical.
"That's a lot of homes on that small a parcel of land," said Rick Bittner, president of the Greater Brooklyn Park Council, an umbrella civic organization supporting the neighbors. "Ninety-some homes -- that's just going to stress out the neighborhood."
The neighborhood has mobilized to oppose rezoning the property to allow the development.Residents have circulated petitions, and the Roland Terrace Democratic Club has offered to bus protesters to the zoning hearing Thursday morning.
Pavlinic plans to argue that town houses fit into the community, and the property should be zoned R-10, allowing up to 10 units per acre, instead of R-5, which permits up to five units per acre.
During the county's last comprehensive rezoning in 1989, the land was designated for up to 15 units per acre, he said. The surrounding properties on three sides have been zoned for higher density developments, he said. Only the Ballman Avenue side has single-family homes.
The neighborhood fought the county's proposed zoning and succeededin limiting it to R-5, Bittner said.
Residents who persuaded county planners to restrict the zoning to single homes two years ago are incensed by the prospect of 83 town houses, he said.
Pavlinic is the attorney for Georgia Clift, whose family has owned a historic manor house on the property for 47 years. Now living in New Hampshire, Clift is waiting to sell the site.
To appease the neighbors, Pavlinic has proposed building single-family houses along Ballman Avenue to fit in with the rest of the street. He also offered to make the town houses available for first-time homebuyers who qualify for low-interest loans.
"We know there's a need for affordable housing, so we have proposed something we think is fair, logical and helpful," he said.
He plans to build only eight units per acre, but said the cost of installing sewers, utilities and new road work prohibits only single-family homes.
The project's opponents say Pavlinic just wants tomaximize his profits.
Though he has met with the residents and showed them plans of elegant brick town homes, Pavlinic admits he has "not been able to win the community's support."
He is ready for a showdown Thursday at the Arundel Center in Annapolis. Armed with petitions, dozens of residents plan to protest increasing the property's density.
State Sen. Philip C. Jimeno, D-Brooklyn Park, and DelegateJoan Cadden, D-Brooklyn Park, have written letters opposing the rezoning, Bittner said, and a dozen civic groups have rallied behind the cause.