Sykesville partnership is developing a community Farmer, engineering assistant, apartment manager pool knowledge SOUTHEAST--Sykesville * Eldersburg * Gamber

May 11, 1993|By Traci A. Johnson | Traci A. Johnson,Staff Writer

Someone once said that professionals built the Titanic, but amateurs built the ark.

Then perhaps it isn't so strange that a farmer, an engineering assistant and an apartment manager believe they know enough about developing to plan a single-family home community and upgrade the sewer system of a small town.

"That's the whole thing with us -- we've never done this kind of thing before," said Jeff Adams of the New Windsor Partnership, a Sykesville-based land development company. He is an engineering assistant with the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.

Partnership member Bill Schneider had been around developers much of his life, but never wanted to deal directly with development.

His father, the founder of the Sykesville-based William Schneider Co., wanted him to go into the family construction and land developing business, but he wanted to continue operating the family's 231-acre crop and meat operation in Sykesville.

"I was a farmer, and that was it. End of discussion," Bill Schneider said. "I wouldn't have any part of it."

But the farm's financial problems eventually put Mr. Schneider, Mr. Adams and other family members and friends in the development business.

"Everybody knew the farm," Mr. Schneider said. "Dad bought it in 1944. They all worked the farm in those days. We used to have hogs, beef cows, chickens and an egg route.

"I sold a couple of lots off the farm to pay the mortgage, but I could see expenses creeping back up on me," he said. "I knew I needed to make a little income to pay for the farm."

Mr. Schneider's brother, Mel, is the other executive member of the partnership, which includes his sister Betty Heilman and Bill Schneider's sons Andrew and John.

Mel Schneider manages 152 units at the Gaither Manor Apartments, another enterprise started by William Schneider, who died in 1979.

Although none of the men knew much about developing, they bought 42 acres of land in New Windsor, planned the development of an 84-lot, single-family home community and upgraded the town's sewer system to accommodate not only their planned homes, but the proposed communities of Atlee Ridge, Springdale Retirement Village and the new middle school.

"There's things you can learn running an apartment, or farming ++ or engineering or whatever, that all come together and add up," said Mel Schneider. "You eventually learn the rules."

Using Mr. Adams' hands-on mechanical skills, Mel Schneider's technical know-how -- he soaked up information by visiting the sewer operations in other towns --and Bill Schneider's financial knowledge, they managed to upgrade the sewer lagoon to meet state specifications.

With the three supplying knowledge and labor, the job cost $75,000 -- $585,000 less than New Windsor's city engineers estimated.

The men installed two curtains to divide the lagoon into sections, eight aerators that help decompose solid waste by adding oxygen to the water, and upgraded the electrical circuitry to handle the increased level of pumping in the treatment facility.

The upgrade brought the system from pumping 49,000 gallons to 94,000 gallons of sewage a day.

The partners said they are believe they will prosper in their development enterprise, which is off to a good start with yesterday's $50,000 settlement on the first building lot.

"There's light at the end of the tunnel," said Bill Schneider. Mel Schneider nodded his agreement.

"Yeah, we're far enough into the tunnel to see the light at the

other end," Mr. Adams said. "But we're still hoping it's not a train."

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