New little village of River Hill to grow much bigger in a hurry WEST COLUMBIA

March 31, 1993|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff Writer

David Berson realizes the village of River Hill won't stay small and cozy for long.

"It's not a big surprise houses are going to be built there," said Mr. Berson, the nonvoting Columbia Council member from the unincorporated city's 10th and final village, which numbers just more than 100 households. "It's obviously very nice to have a little neighborhood, but nobody thought that would be the way it was developed."

The county Planning Board will review final plans today for the development of 236 single-family homes in River Hill. The newest village will mark the realization of the plan begun by the Rouse Co. about 30 years ago.

The project proposed by Howard Research and Development Corp., the Rouse Co.'s development division, is slated for 88 acres east of Trotter Road and north of Guilford Road. It would comprise 42.3 acres of low-density housing -- roughly two units per acre -- south of the planned relocation of Route 32; 22.3 acres of medium-density housing -- about four units per acre -- north of the proposed new Route 32; and 23.3 acres of open space.

River Hill is bordered by routes 108 and 32 and the Middle Patuxent River, and will extend close to Clarksville.

The final development plan establishes how land will be used for a project. Once that is approved, the development corporation can move toward recording subdivision plans, building infrastructure and selling lots to builders, said David Forester, Rouse Co. vice president and senior development director.

Mr. Forester said the corporation would like to start work on roads and utilities by early summer, and begin constructing houses in 1994.

Earlier this year, the Planning Board approved a final development plan for 125 single-family homes designated low density on an adjacent 71.3-acre tract north of the proposed Route 32. Mr. Forester said the corporation is developing those lots now and could be ready to begin construction of houses late this year.

The subdivisions will take about 18 months to build, he said.

The two sections are the beginnings of the Pointers Run neighborhood and are components of a larger comprehensive plan to develop about 900 dwelling units on about 500 acres in phases over several years. No commercial development is included in that plan.

Construction has already begun in River Hill's other planned neighborhood, Pheasant Ridge, which straddles Trotter Road to the north of the planned Pointers Run community. The corporation reports that River Hill had 105 dwelling units -- all single-family homes in Pheasant Ridge -- as of Dec. 31, 1992.

The River Hill village board, which was formed about six months ago, has not reviewed the corporation's development plans, said Chairman Peter Engel. He said the board will try to review plans and attend county Planning Board sessions.

"We're certainly interested," he said.

Mr. Berson said he views the pending development as "part of being in Columbia."

"If we didn't want to be in Columbia, we would have bought somewhere else," he said.

He jokes that River Hill residents are Columbia's "pioneers" because neighborhood centers, pools and a shopping center have yet to be built.

"We're isolated now," he said. "It will be nice to have community amenities. That's clearly what we're lacking now. We're roughing it, but it's not that rough."

The corporation's March 1993 population report projects that River Hill will double in size to 209 dwelling units by the end of this year, and will grow to nearly 600 units by the end of 1994. By 1998, the village is projected to have 1,675 units, of which 80 percent would be single-family detached homes. River Hill's population is projected to jump from 357 in 1992 to 1,748 in 1994, to 5,360 by 1998.

The corporation projects it will build 1,570 housing units in River Hill over the next five years. The rest of Columbia is designated for only 1,771 additional units. Of the 1,771, the corporation projects that 1,032 units -- or 58 percent -- will be constructed in the Kendall Ridge neighborhood in Long Reach village.

The Planning Board will meet at 9:30 a.m. in the Ellicott Room of the George Howard Building in Ellicott City.

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