Zoning changes make western-county land owners jittery Specter of 1-acre lots raises fears WEST COUNTY -- Clarksville * Highland * Glenelg * Lisbon

October 08, 1992|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Staff writer

When Eugene Mele and his wife, Elizabeth, bought an expensive, expansive lot last spring in Second Discovery near Glenelg, they were attracted by the wide open spaces of three-acre lots. But new zoning rules approved last month have left them wondering if their dream neighborhood will turn out the way they had hoped.

"I felt that my purchase of that lot was going to get me what I wanted. A lot in a 3-acre subdivision," Mr. Mele said. "We purchased it with the idea that this was going to be an exclusive community. I figured we had bought our piece of heaven."

But while the county's top planner acknowledges that many west county homeowners might be a little jittery about zoning changes approved by the Zoning Board in the comprehensive re-zoning of western Howard, he's urging them to relax.

The fear that undeveloped property in upscale communities could be sub-divided into one-acre home sites has some basis, said county Planning and Zoning Director Joseph Rutter. Such a move is theoretically possible, but it isn't likely, he said.

The new rules allow some property owners to make deals to keep one western county parcel undeveloped in exchange for the right to build more homes on another smaller parcel.

But sub-dividing lots again would be next to impossible for a development such as Second Discovery in which lots already are recorded and in which a developer has placed a bond guaranteeing its infrastructure, including street connections from each lot to the main road, Mr. Rutter said.

"We're not going to let [the developer] abandon the road, and if you can't abandon the road, it's going to be impossible to re-subdivide," Mr. Rutter said.

He added that the cost of re-engineering and rebuilding the road would be prohibitive.

With only one home completed in Second Discovery and another under construction, property owners in the Folly Quarter Road subdivision were asked by developer Donald Reuwer how they felt about the possibility of sub-dividing their lots.

"He wanted to know what our opinions would be if he was going to pursue this. Needless to say, we were not going to be very excited at all," Mr. Mele said.

Mr. Reuwer said he was contacted by one lot owner after the new zoning map was approved Sept. 18, who asked if the new zoning would allow him to divide his three-acre lot into three parcels.

Mr. Reuwer said he told the owner he wasn't sure if such a change were possible, but that he would need to check with adjoining lot owners. And when other owners balked, he dropped the idea, Mr.Reuwer said.

Getting a consensus from property owners would be a necessary first step, Mr. Reuwer said, because property covenants often preclude re-subdividing without the approval of the community or its architectural review committee. As an example, he noted that such covenants are in effect at the nearby Far Side on Homewood Road community.

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