Developer envisions 22 homes on 10 acres of Dasher Homestead Moxley has ties to Columbia's birth

November 16, 1993|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff Writer

An Ellicott City developer has proposed building about 22 homes on a 10-acre parcel of the Dasher Homestead property, a remnant of the large farm that became an integral part of Columbia's Owen Brown Village.

James R. "Rob" Moxley III, vice president of the SDC Group Inc., plans to subdivide the property into quarter-acre lots on the west side of Oakland Mills Road, south of Homespun Lane. The development would be tucked between the Elkhorn and Hopewell neighborhoods, a short distance from Lake Elkhorn and adjacent to a Baltimore Gas and Electric power line right-of-way.

Mr. Moxley is in the early stages of the development-review process with the county and doesn't anticipate selling lots for construction to a builder until 1995. The property is under contract with the Dasher family, and the deal is contingent upon county approvals. Mr. Moxley did not reveal the negotiated price for the land.

The Dasher property was one of three large parcels that were keys to James Rouse's quest in 1963 to buy farmland and convert it into a new, planned city, according to the Columbia Forum, which wrote a series on the history of Columbia in 1975. The Dasher family farming partnership, a beef and grain operation, owned more than 600 acres along Oakland Mills Road, according to the Columbia Forum, a think tank which studies ways to improve the unincorporated city.

The Dashers sold most of their land in 1963 to Mr. Rouse, who enlisted the aid of local real estate brokers to help piece together the properties that would become Columbia. The Dasher family had farmed the land since the early 1930s.

The Dasher family kept a small parcel to live on, which it plans to sell to the SDC Group for development. Still, the Dasher name remains prominent in the village, which was established in 1972. The village boasts a "Dasher Green" residential neighborhood and elementary school.

It is to a developer's advantage to build in a well-established and nearly built-out area such as Owen Brown Village, Mr. Moxley said. The Rouse Co., Columbia's developer, plans to add only 104 dwelling units to the village, all apartments, according to the company's 1993 population projections.

"There's less of an unknown for a builder coming into an established neighborhood," Mr. Moxley said. "There are houses all around with set property values, and they establish a value for the area."

Mr. Moxley has ties to Columbia's origins. His father, Jim Moxley Jr., president of the SDC Group project, and his cousin Robert Moxley were local real estate brokers who helped Mr. Rouse buy the land that became Columbia 30 years ago.

Mr. Moxley has agreed to place the property under the Owen Brown village architectural covenants and the Columbia Association assessment, which means homeowners would have to pay an annual fee to the nonprofit corporation which operates recreational facilities and maintains open space areas.

The property now is an "out parcel" -- a pocket of land that was not acquired as part of the plan for the new community. The property is mostly rolling open field and contains a house, which Mr. Moxley says will remain, and several old farm buildings.

Plans call for one cul-de-sac to be built off Oakland Mills Road to serve the development, along the path of an existing private driveway, Mr. Moxley said. At a recent Village Board meeting, Mr. Moxley told residents of Dawn Blush Court, an adjoining property, that development plans would include landscaped buffers between the new development and existing homes.

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