Site plans for 100 town houses in downtown Columbia -- the first houses to be built in Town Center since 1985 -- were approved by the Planning Board yesterday.
The unnamed project will feature 50 standard town houses and 50 "back-to-back" town house condominiums, said Maurice Simpkins, vice president for the Columbia Division of Ryland Homes.
The 14-acre development, on Banneker Road in Town Center's southwest corner, is adjacent to land the Rouse Co. is trying to rezone from commercial to residential to help bring more residents, and consequently more urban character, to Columbia's downtown area.
"There's been no residential construction in Town Center for several years," Simpkins said. "I certainly think it brings a closer-in and better quality of life for those that are able to move into Town Center. It offers Town Center apartment renters an opportunity for ownership."
He said he expects the homes to sell for between $98,000 and $120,000,beginning in late summer.
Simpkins said that if the Banneker project is successful, he might be interested in building on part of the neighboring land if it is rezoned.
The Zoning Board is expected torule next week on that rezoning. That ruling will come with a package of proposed changes that would add 500 more town houses to Town Center, annex 89 acres into Columbia and 1,600 more residential units toLong Reach village.
In other action, the Planning Board:
* Approved the Rouse Co.'s addition of 2,400 square feet to the Hickory Ridge village shopping center to accommodate a 6,000-square-foot Blockbuster Video store.
The building was to have been a fast-food outlet, but the economy has dampened franchisers' expansion plans, explained Al Edwards, a Rouse Co. project engineer.
* Recommended that the Board of Appeals approve a special exception to allow the Lions Club of Ellicott City to build a softball field on the east side of Route 104.
Neighbor Tim Kapinos said he objected to the field's lighting next to his four-month-old home in the Montgomery Meadows subdivision. Board members told him the land's current residential zoning already allowed a lighted ball field. The special exception was needed only because the existing Lions Club building was set up under a special exception.