Builder aims to preserve environment

CONDOS IN SYNC WITH NATURE

October 18, 1992|By Audrey Haar | Audrey Haar,Staff Writer

There isn't much Otto Paparazzo won't do to save plants and trees.

Many developers would start building a golf course and homes on a wooded and marshy site by clearing obstructions and filling in the land.

But Otto Paparazzo wouldn't hear of such a thing for his Chesapeake Club development, a 1,440-unit, 500-acre condominium project overlooking the Northeast River, just outside the town limits of North East.

If a tree is in the way of a new road, he'll go around it. If there is just no way to build a house without doing away with a tree or shrub, it then becomes one of the hundred each day that are transplanted or held in an on-site nursery.

Is it possible to have a golf course in wooded wetlands? Well, one golfer says it makes for a very challenging course.

"I have put many a ball into the trees this summer," said golfer James A. Roney, who is also chairman of the Economic Development Commission for the town of North East.

The ball goes from the fairway, to a bit of rough and then into thewoods, Mr. Roney said. And golfers also have to beware of the ponds and grassy wetlands on the perimeter of the course that have an appetite for golf balls.

The first nine holes of the golf course are open, and the secondhalf will be completed this winter. In addition, the development will have tennis courts, swimming pools and shops.

Homes will be arranged in clusters so that each will have a view of the fairways, but the houses will be hidden from golfers on the greens.

The builder is putting up six home styles including two-bedroom detached homes and duplexes ranging in size from 1,257 to 1,723 square feet. There is also a single-bedroom carriage home that is 1,177 square feet in area.

The homes will be arranged in groups at the end of private roads and will be landscaped by the developer.

Prices for the homes range in price from $109,000 to $165,000, but are being sold as condominiums, so the purchase price is just for the home -- not for the land. In addition, buyers pay a ZTC homeowners association fee that ranges from $80 to $100 each month.

While there is an extra fee for golfing, tennis or swimming, homeowners and other area residents can pay just for the amenities they want to use, Mr. Paparazzo said.

As an incentive, Mr. Paparazzo is offering to the first 50 buyers a $10,000 U.S. Treasury bond.

Buyers are also guaranteed that each home will be energy efficient and will have insulation, windows and high-efficiency heat pumps that will save buyers an average of 20 percent on their utility bills. In an arrangement with the developer, Conowingo Power Co. tests each home for energy efficiency before the owner moves in.

Construction of the first two dozen homes is under way, and the first resident is planning to move in at the end of this month.

In about five years when Chesapeake Club completed, the addition of 1,440 homes to the area will significantly increase the population density of the now rural community of North East.

Roger Venezia, director of economic development for Cecil County,estimates the population of North East and the neighboring area a few miles outside of town at about 5,000 people. Without figuring in the smaller home developments in the area, when completed, Chesapeake Club alone could increase the population of the area by 50 percent.

Although Cecil County has not seen significant job growth in recent years, the population of the county grew about 18 percent from 1980 to 1990, Mr. Venezia said. He attributed much of that growth to people moving into the county, not the birth and death rate.

"We are a net exporter of people to jobs," Mr. Venezia said, with most workers commuting out of the county to their jobs. The largest employment center in the area is Wilmington, Del., and more people are driving to Perryville to take the MARC commuter train to Baltimore or on to Washington, he said.

Melissa Cook, town administrator for North East, said any planning for new roads is probably a couple of years away. Of more immediate concern is the water supply.

While the town allocated Chesapeake Club water for the first 203 homes, any future water permits will be approved only after the town updates and expands its water treatment plant, which should be completed in about three years, Ms. Cook said.

Mr. Roney views the Chesapeake Club development as a major benefit to the community. It is a plus that the developer is using local craftsmen to build the homes, and Mr. Roney said he is particularly pleased with Mr. Paparazzo's efforts to preserve the natural appearance of the site.

Mr. Paparazzo, who has put up home developments in Southbury, Conn.; Stowe, Vt., Houston; and Vero Beach, Fla., said it was the location on the water that attracted him to the Maryland site. "There is a lot of vitality with the Chesapeake Bay so close," he said.

One of the main attractions of the area was low land prices. "We were looking to get into a lower market price," Mr. Paparazzo said. For instance, in the Connecticut development Mr. Paparazzo is building, prices range from $150,000 to $350,000 just for the lot.

"It's good land and a terrific market between Philadelphia and Baltimore. It's a little span that hasn't been built up yet," he said of North East.

Three miles off Interstate 95 on Route 272, the area has attracted people from the Baltimore area, New Jersey, Delaware and Philadelphia.

The developer expects that the homes will appeal primarily to young people who will want to live close to tennis, swimming, boating and, of course, golfing.

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