A plan to give Columbia a more urban appearance by building 500 town house or apartment units in Town Center has been substantially pared by county officials, who worried that noise from nearby Merriweather Post Pavilion would disrupt future tenants.
The decision weakened a plan that some believed might revitalize Columbia's quiet downtown area.
But the move also baffled some community leaders who have long pushed for more-affordable housing in the affluent community. Others were perplexed because noise had not surfaced as an issue during hearings on the plan.
The zoning board, which is also the County Council, rejected 12 of the 20 acres of apartments or town houses requested by the Rouse Co. by a 4-1 vote. The decision was released Thursday. Councilman C. Vernon Gray was the lone dissenter. About 300 apartments could have been built on the rejected land. Deleting the housing will make it more difficult now to meet the county's goals for increasing affordable housing, Mr. Gray said.