Agencies oppose Colvista proposal Baltimore County replies to developer

March 26, 1992|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Staff Writer

An article in The Sun yesterday about Colvista, a 3,000-unit development proposed for a site near Phoenix and York roads, stated incorrectly that the Baltimore County master plan envisions high-density development only in Owings Mills and White Marsh. In fact, the plan also provides for such an area between Interstate 83 and York Road, south of the proposed Colvista site.

+ The Sun regrets the errors.

A developer's attempt to get Baltimore County government's support for a 3,000-home Italian-style hillside village in Cockeysville has failed.

In a letter to the attorney for Victor Posner's Security Management Corp., administrative officer Merreen E. Kelly said that county agencies "are unanimous in their opposition" to the proposal and that north county residents have expressed strong objections as well.

The project, named Colvista, would put condominiums, apartments and town houses on 215 hilly acres just east of York Road and south of Phoenix Road -- land now zoned for watershed protection because of its proximity to the Loch Raven Reservoir.


On Feb. 7, the developer staged an elaborate presentation to a group of high-ranking county officials, hoping to win early support for rezoning so the project could move forward.

That support would have been helpful when the rezoning request comes before the county Planning Board next month. The board's recommendation will be passed on to the County Council, which is to make a final determination on the request in October.

But Mr. Kelly's letter summarizes a slew of objections from every department that reviewed the Colvista proposal. Local environmental officials, for instance, worried that the development -- the county's biggest project outside Owings Mills New Town -- could threaten the Loch Raven watershed.

County planners charged that the project would force the county to extend sewers beyond currently sewered land, and public works officials said the Back River Wastewater Treatment plant is already nearing capacity.

The plan also would violate the town center concept of Baltimore County's master plan, planners said. The plan envisioned high-density development only in Owings Mills in the west and White Marsh in the east. Colvista would, in essence, form a third, unplanned town center, threatening the peaceful, rural character Hunt Valley north of Shawan Road.

Moreover, York Road, which retains its serpentine, country-road roots as it winds toward the corporate parks of Hunt Valley, couldn't handle the vehicles generated by the estimated 8,000 more residents.

The Community Development Department, which handles housing programs, argued that the county needs affordable housing for people who work in the York Road/I-83 corridor, not the $150,000 to $200,000-plus homes planned for Colvista.

In addition, with all the northern county elementary schools already overcrowded, Mr. Kelly's letter noted that the county has no classroom space for children who might live in the proposed development.

Despite the county's position, however, G. Scott Barhight, an attorney for Security Management Corp., said the developer will continue working for the rezoning. Mr. Barhight said that the developer anticipated most of the major objections to the plan and that he was actively working with county officials to address them. "We're not going away," he said.

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