Low-cost homes planned for surplus lots in 4 areas Project receives community support

August 23, 1993|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Staff Writer

For years, McKinley Bowie of Patapsco Park has had to look out from his front door on a weed-infested vacant lot, an eyesore in an otherwise pleasant neighborhood.

"It's nothing but woods," Mr. Bowie said. "It's all growing up. There's no maintenance on it at all."

Now, the owner of that lot -- Anne Arundel County -- is going to do something about it.

Under the Venture Housing program, the county will sell surplus lots in four communities for $1 each to the newly formed Arundel Community Development Services Inc., a nonprofit corporation that is the former county Housing and Community Development division. The County Council approved the transfer last week.

A Glen Burnie contractor, F. J. Scott & Associates, was chosen to build houses for the lots. The houses will sell for $80,000 to $85,000 to first-time buyers who meet certain income requirements. The community development agency will screen and select the homebuyers.

By March, new homeowners will move into four houses in Lombardee Beach in Pasadena, two houses in Morris Hills near Glen Burnie, one house in Patapsco Park near Brooklyn Park and two houses in the Thompson Farms area near Severn.

Seven homes also were planned for the Ridgeway area of lTC Severn, but residents there complained that building houses on small lots would drive down their property values. Kathleen Koch, executive director of the community development agency, said they were unsuccessful in negotiations with residents.

But the Venture Housing program has received strong support in the four communities in which the home building is proceeding.

Mr. Bowie said his only complaint is that there will be only one house built in his neighborhood.

"I know we're going the right way," Mr. Bowie said. "It gives kids who are 31, 32, 33 a chance to own a house they wouldn't be able to afford otherwise."

Councilman Carl G. Holland, a Pasadena Republican in whose district the Lombardee Beach homes will be built, is also a strong supporter.

"Ever since I got into office, we've been trying to do something with that property," he said. (The property formerly housed a fire station).

He sees several advantages to developing a lot that was just lying fallow.

"Number one, it's going to put the property back on the tax rolls," he said. "Number two, it takes care of the blight that was the firehouse. And number three, it's going to give people from the area an opportunity to buy these homes."

Giving people from the immediate community the first shot at the new homes was a top priority both of council members and residents in the targeted areas.

Therefore, the homes are first being offered to people in the neighborhood in which they are being built, or to the children of people in the neighborhood.

They have until Sept. 7 to apply, after which the community agency will start accepting applications from the general public.

Ellen Woodlon, who lives in Morris Hills, is hoping her daughter and son-in-law will qualify for one of the homes in her neighborhood. "I can see they will be nice homes for the money," she said.

There are two other houses being built on the block by private developers, one for $110,000 and the other for $120,000. "What I see [with the Venture houses] really surpasses it for less money," she said.

To qualify, a single person can make no more than $34,200 a year, and a family of two or more can earn no more than $42,750.

In most cases, the homes will be two-story, split foyer designs with three bedrooms and 1 1/2 bathrooms. Two of the houses in Lombardee Beach will be two-story designs with two full bathrooms.

Ms. Koch said six developers submitted bids to build the houses, and F. J. Scott & Associates of Glen Burnie was selected based on the design, the price it offered and the firm's experience. "I think we're getting a really nice quality design for a really quality price," Ms. Koch said.

Students from the county's vocational technical education program will build the two houses in Thompson Farms.

The Bank of Glen Burnie will finance the new homes, offering a 7.5 percent loan with no points.

A cash contribution of 5 percent to 9 percent will be required.

To apply for the new homes, call the Arundel Community Development Services at 222-7614.

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