Developer tries to rally N. Laurel Park's support for housing Residents resist builder's plans NORTH LAUREL/SAVAGE

September 17, 1993|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,Staff Writer

As tension started to rise in June over proposed housing construction in North Laurel Park, Brian Boy, one of the project's builders, hit the streets.

Knocking on doors and talking with home owners, the 32-year-old vice president of Baltimore-based Cornerstone Homes tried to win support for construction of 62 homes in two projects.

"Mr. Boy was out here on foot, talking to me," said James Gordon, whose house is off Baltimore Avenue, in front of a proposed development of 35 single-family, detached homes.

The builder told the North Laurel Park resident that "because he plans to be around for a number of years, he would rather have the community on his side than fighting them all the way."

While Mr. Gordon was impressed by Cornerstone's willingness to talk, he doubts the builder will make major changes as a result of those discussions.

"I'll give you a flat no," he said. "People are aware that there is nothing that can be done about it."

The aggressive approach to community relations is typical of Mr. Boy and his partner, Paul Hinkle, 35, who together established Cornerstone Homes three years ago.

The two former Ryan Homes Inc. employees have made Howard and Anne Arundel counties the base for their company.

They have built Howard County's Waterfront Park, Meadow Ridge Landing, Wheatfield and Long Meadows developments, and recently finished an Anne Arundel development called Windy Knolls, in Millersville.

Now, Cornerstone has set its sights on North Laurel Park, a community east of Route 216 and west of U.S. 1.

The partners are poised to construct two developments, with houses following designs from Cornerstone's 11-product line. The brick-front homes have three and four bedrooms.

The first development, Patuxent Heights, is being built on land owned by Rockville-based Ward Corp., which has started clearing land near Baltimore Avenue, a cross street between Route 216 and North Laurel Road.

Mr. Boy and Mr. Hinkle plan to construct 27 single-family, detached homes there, with prices starting at about $170,000.

In late December or early January, Cornerstone plans to build 35 more homes on land of its own, in a community Mr. Boy and Mr. Hinkle are calling Patuxent Ridge. Prices for those homes will start around $140,000.

The two developments will be next to one another, near Baltimore Avenue.

Mr. Gordon and other homeowners in North Laurel Park have argued against the construction in their neighborhood.

They voiced their opposition last Tuesday at a town meeting for home owners with grievances against county and state representatives, as well as Cornerstone Homes.

The home owners are concerned about traffic problems and the safety of children playing in the streets. They also worry that the new developments will not conform to current drainage standards.

Mr. Boy promised home owners he would provide controls for erosion and sediment runoff, improving current drainage. But he has not offered to control the volume of water that might flow into their yards.

Residents also are concerned that some of the lots being developed by Cornerstone were zoned in 1898. As a result, many of the current subdivision and land-development regulations, as well as county environmental protection laws, do not apply.

And angry homeowners later said that the builders' discussions have not relieved their concerns.

"The developer is putting on a good show, but we didn't believe what he was saying either," said Debbie O'Neil, a member of the North Laurel Civic Association who has participated in meetings with Mr. Boy and the county.

"It's a very depressed neighborhood," Ms. O'Neil said.

Mr. Boy was sympathetic, but portrayed the development as inevitable.

"We want to be a partnership with the community and the county," Mr. Boy said. "People have to realize that there are people who own the land, and they have a right to build on that land."

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