Annapolis development wins approval School crowding concerns expressed

February 09, 1993|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,Staff Writer

An affordable housing foundation won approval last night to develop an old-fashioned community of 194 homes and a park on some of the last vacant land in Annapolis.

Dallas Evans, chairman of The Foundation for the Preservation of Affordable Housing, said he envisions a close-knit community with narrow, tree-lined streets, much the way older sections of Maryland's capital still look.

After nearly two hours of wrangling over details of the project, the City Council overwhelmingly approved Mr. Evans' plans to develop the community he plans to call Oxford Mews on 18 acres off Bywater Road.

With Robert Gaines, an Annapolis developer active in affordable housing projects, Mr. Evans bought the site for $1.9 million. Mr. Evans said he has finished lining up construction loans, but hasn't signed all the paperwork.

The pair plan to begin construction of the three-acre park in mid-summer. Sixteen single homes, 48 garden-style condominiums and 138 town houses would be built around the park. They would be sold to low- and moderate-income families.

Council members debated at length last night whether the park should be public and maintained by the city. Alderman John Hammond, a Ward 1 Republican, argued strongly for requiring the homeowners' association to keep up the park. But the other aldermen countered that the city should assume responsibility for maintenance if it is a municipal park.

Mr. Hammond also expressed concern about approving the project at a time when Annapolis' public schools are bulging at the seams. He was the only one of eight council members to vote against the development.

The Board of Education sent a letter to the council warning that nearby elementary schools are already overcrowded. The letter urged the council to delay or veto the project. Several aldermen reacted angrily to the letter, calling it a "day late and a dollar short." They said the county hasn't stopped development in the Annapolis Neck area, which has contributed to the enrollment boom.

"I don't see Anne Arundel County slowing down their development any," said Alderman Theresa DeGraff, a Ward 7 Republican.

In other business last night, the council approved a plan to expand the city's recycling program.

A private company would pick up recyclables, including aluminum cans and newspapers, which currently are not collected. A program to employ the disabled would process recyclables for the city.

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