Growth-control law delays Rouse project in Kendall Ridge EAST COLUMBIA

June 29, 1993|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Staff Writer

A county law aimed at preventing school crowding is holding up 900 homes planned by the Rouse Co.

"It was bound to happen sooner or later," said Alton J. Scavo, Rouse Co. vice president and associate director of community development. "It would have been nice if it had happened a lot later."

The development of up to 483 apartments, 192 townhouses and 214 detached houses in the Kendall Ridge neighborhood of Long Reach Village was to have been built in 1996.

But the county's limit on the number of units in the region had already been allocated. The limits are set under the county's adequate public facilities laws.

One of the developers who helped use the allocations was John Liparini, whose Centre 9500 project is slated for about 360 homes in 1996. Mr. Liparini, whose Brantly Development Corp. is one of three companies involved in the project, used to work with Mr. Scavo at the Rouse Co.

Another developer, Patrick McCuan, recently had much of his Columbia 100 project, which was zoned for office/research, rezoned for apartments.

While Howard Research and Development, the Rouse Co.'s Columbia development arm, plodded through its comprehensive planning process, Mr. McCuan's plans were approved in time to take allocations for another 450 units.

"There was a question of how many projects were going to develop and how many of them were going to fall out," when HRD engineers submitted plans for Long Reach 4, Mr. Scavo said, so there was a chance that the Rouse Co. might be permitted to develop the section.

"Because of the comprehensive nature of their planning, it takes [the Rouse Co.] twice as long to go through the process as anyone else," said Joseph W. Rutter, county director of planning and zoning.

Now that the Rouse Co. has lost the race for 1996 allocations, it will have to add an extra year of projections to its traffic studies and get allocations for 1997, Mr. Rutter said.

The Rouse Co.'s development passed all of the growth-control measure's tests except one.

"The schools are adequate, the roads are adequate, but there's a region-wide cap on the number of units you can develop," Mr. Rutter said. "The purpose of the cap is to provide predictability to the school system so that we don't have overcrowded schools."

Mr. Rutter added that the law "assures us that we don't get back . . . to the 4,000-units-a-year pace that we had in the late '80s."

Included in the five adequate facilities laws is a cap on the number of units that can develop in the county, which averages 2,500 units a year through the year 2010.

Each school system-designated region of the county has its own cap. Rouse's planned Long Reach development is in the Northeast Region, which was allowed 848 units for 1996.

In the neighboring East Columbia Region, HRD obtained allocations for an apartment development, and even donated about 45 acres for a new school.

"Right across the street from the units that were denied is the high school that [HRD] is working on with the Board of Education. That's the real irony of this," Mr. Rutter said.

But Mr. Scavo says there are no hard feelings about the delay.

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