Bates Plan Shot Down By Board

December 06, 1991|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff writer

An Annapolis planning board voted, 4-3, yesterday to oppose the higher-density housing a developer says is needed to build a community and senior center at the old Wiley H. Bates High School.

The Planning and Zoning Commission will recommend against a change in zoning that would have allowed developer Victor Frenkil to build 86 town houseson a portion of the 16-acre site and to pay $1.2 million to remove asbestos from the once all-black school.

"It was not a decision about the merits of the project," said commission chairman Thomas Hennessy, who voted to recommend against the rezoning.

By law, Hennessy said, the developer had to show that the neighborhood had changed substantially since the zoning was adoptedin 1970 or that the original zoning was a mistake. "In the view of the majority of the commission, they did not do either," he said.

Fred Sussman, with the Bates Development Corp., said, "As a practical matter, R-3 (higher density zoning) is absolutely necessary to allow the current development plan to proceed. The existing (R-2) zoning doesn't allow the development of the town home component or the senior housing component as currently envisioned."

Bates was the only high school for blacks in Anne Arundel County until county schools were desegregated in 1966. Black community leaders have sought for nearly nine years to restore the school for use as a community center and rental housing for senior citizens.

Frenkil has proposed financing the renovations by developing the property around the school, a move opposed by environmentalists. The land is within 1,000 feet of the headwaters of Spa Creek, a buffer known as a critical area.

The City Council is scheduled to hear the case Dec. 16.

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