80 acres are stripped and then left vacant

October 19, 1992|By Angela Gambill | Angela Gambill,Staff Writer

Already, Joseph Stonestreet is tired of driving by the 80 acres at Route 2 and Central Avenue in Anne Arundel County that developers stripped of trees for a project they now say they can't afford to finish.

And he has at least two years to stare at the barren clearings before Friendswood Development Corp. of Houston resumes work on South River Colony, a 1,400-acre project.

Friendswood began clearing the land last summer to build a commercial center and golf course. But company officials decided last month to halt work because of the economy.

"Before you cut the land all up, you should pay attention to the economy," griped Joseph Stonestreet, 32, who lives across from the site. "Housing real estate has been steadily going into the hole three years before they did this. They should've done their homework more thoroughly."

Randy Raudabaugh, Friendswood's Maryland manager, said the developer had hoped the economy would turn around. When it didn't, the corporation decided to put the $15 million it would have used to finish South River Colony "into places where we're more confident we'll get a return, " he said.

Many neighbors are angry that the trees were cleared with nothing to show for it.

"They clean things out so it doesn't interfere with their construction," said Ted Coleman, 59, who has lived in the neighborhood for four years. "It's a shame the government allows it. In Montgomery County, the environmental people won't let them take the trees down."

John West, 40, complained that Friendswood "bought that property and it's going to set here, a mess. What can you do?"

Other neighbors were skeptical that the developer could find enough buyers, even in a strong economy, for the 300 $300,000 homes planned for the subdivision.

The project includes plans for a maximum of 900 homes, including the 300 single-family homes, 200 townhomes and 400 condominiums, plus a golf course and country club, Mr. Raudabaugh said.

Before Friendship halts work entirely, however, the storm water management system will be completed and the cleared ground stabilized and seeded with grass, Mr. Raudabaugh said.

He said the developers won't let the property sit idle for long.

"We have dozens of permits that expire in the future at various times," he said.

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