The last section of Columbia's last village got final approval from the county Planning Board yesterday, allowing the Rouse Co. to expand the planned city out to the center of Clarksville.
The board voted 3-0, with one abstention, to approve the comprehensive sketch plan for the bulk of the Pheasant Ridge neighborhood, which would include the River Hill Village Center and the village's only apartments and town houses.
Rouse planners expect the last homes in River Hill to be built in 1998 or 1999.
Planners from Howard Research and Development Corp., the Rouse Co.'s Columbia development arm, made one minor change in their plans in response to public criticism.
Residents of properties along Trotter Road had said they expected a wider buffer between their homes and the new Columbia development. Since that meeting, Rouse planners have added several more acres to the strip of open space separating the neighborhoods.
"Much of the proposed development is very well thought-out and very good," Shirley Geis, president of the Trotter Road Citizens Association, said before she offered her criticisms of the project to the board.
Her main request was that Great Star Drive be connected to Trotter Road as soon as possible to alleviate traffic congestion on Trotter Road. The community had opposed the connection.
With the pace of development on River Hill bringing frequent dump trucks and construction equipment to the neighborhood, she said, "Frankly, the road can't handle it; we need relief."
The Planning Board approved the westernmost section yesterday. Construction has begun on the southern section, which was approved earlier.
The additional open space near the Trotter Road properties brings the amount of open space in the section to about half of its 424 acres.
David Forester, Rouse vice president and senior development director, said yesterday that Great Star Drive would be built as homes are built along it.
The final River Hill section will be dominated by its 611 detached houses and will include the 2,300-unit village's only high-density residential development.
It will include about 170 town houses and 288 apartments or condominiums along Great Star Drive.
The plan also calls for a village center with a 60,000-square-foot supermarket and a 150,000-square-foot shopping center.