Rouse discusses where it would build moderately priced homes in Columbia Columbia Council weighing measure

December 18, 1992|By Mark Guidera | Mark Guidera,Staff Writer

The villages of Town Center, Long Reach and River Hill would be the likely areas of Columbia where the Rouse Co. would build moderately priced housing if required to do so under a proposed measure, the Columbia Council was told last night.

"We support the intent of the legislation. It provides housing for people who are very much our neighbors," said Al Scavo, an official of the Rouse Co., Columbia's sole land developer.

He briefed the council on the effect of the proposed measure.

Mr. Scavo told the council the measure, sponsored by County Councilman C. Vernon Gray, D-3rd, would result in 600 to 800 more homes being built in Columbia than currently planned.

About 350 would be moderately priced homes, he said.

Mr. Scavo estimated that Rouse plans to build about 3,800 new homes on the 14,000 acres of undeveloped land it owns in the unincorporated town of 85,000 people.

Mr. Gray's legislation would require builders of a development with 10 or more units to reserve 10 percent of those units for people of moderate income.

As an example, a family of four with an annual income of $44,100 could qualify to buy one of the moderately priced units, which would likely be apartments or town homes, said Mr. Scavo.

The units would be rented or sold at cost to eligible buyers. Mr. Scavo said prices of the units would average $70,000 to $90,000.

The legislation would allow affected builders to increase the number of units in their developments by 20 percent to recoup their costs of building the moderately priced units.

Rouse has requested an amendment to Mr. Gray's bill that would allow comprehensively planned communities, such as Columbia, to shift building the required number of homes from one project site to another, said Mr. Scavo.

In response to queries from council members, Mr. Scavo said that while Rouse did not plan to "cluster" all of the moderately priced homes in one area, that could, in fact, happen.

He said the company hopes to spread the units throughout the three likely villages.

"We don't see mixing market-rate and below-market rate homes as a liability," Mr. Scavo said. "There is absolutely nothing that shows loss of value by mixing."

While the likely areas for the company to build the units are on residentially zoned land, he said Rouse probably would seek some zoning changes if the bill is approved.

The changes would be sought to allow Rouse the option of building the homes on land zoned for employment or open space.

Council member Norma Rose suggested that the panel study the issue in depth and vote on the legislation at its next meeting.

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