Long-running battle over zoning of Waverly Woods II site ends Proponents seek planned community

December 22, 1992|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Staff Writer

Howard County's longest zoning fight in nearly 20 years ended yesterday, with proponents urging the creation of a "signature community" on the 682-acre Waverly Woods II site in Marriottsville and Woodstock.

With only three opponents present, it was a peaceful conclusion for what had started March 11 with a packed auditorium and acrimonious exchanges between lawyers for the property's owners and residents seeking to preserve the area's rural character.

"It is a reasonable and rational plan that will enable us to have a signature community in Howard County," said Leonard Goldstein, attorney for the site's three owners, John Gudelsky, Bruce Taylor and Kennard Warfield Jr.

But Susan Gray, a growth-control advocate representing opponents, urged the board to reject on legal grounds a package of zoning changes that would clear the way for the project. She said the owners have failed to show that the land was zoned incorrectly or that the character of the neighborhood has changed -- the only two criteria for making such a zoning change.

County Council members, sitting as the Zoning Board, will decide whether to grant the petition after holding one or more work sessions, which have not been scheduled.

Mr. Goldstein told the board that the planned community of up to 1,000 houses and apartments, 1.7 million square feet of office and other commercial space, and a village shopping center would include free land for a county golf course.

The course would attract "high-quality residents" who would JTC expect good services that would benefit the community, he said.

Mr. Goldstein also reminded board members of the credentials of the owners' traffic expert and attacked documents and studies that opponents presented to dispute his findings.

Opponents' main objection was Mr. Goldstein's conclusion that the development would not require road improvements beyond those that would be needed without the development. He also touted the plan's protection of wetlands and water quality.

Mr. Goldstein also denied opponents' charges that the golf course would drain the water table.

He said their concerns that the installation of water and sewer service for the Waverly project would have a domino effect, clearing the way for further development, were also unfounded.

Ms. Gray argued that the Zoning Board had not erred when it decided to zone the area for 3-acre residential lots. Ms. Gray cited a transcript from the 1985 comprehensive rezoning process in which the current board chairman, C. Vernon Gray (no relation), said that the county did not need the proposed "employment center."

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