Low-density housing proposed for Honeygo

March 01, 1994|By Patrick Gilbert | Patrick Gilbert,Sun Staff Writer

Hoping to avoid the congestion and crowded schools of Owings Mills and White Marsh, Baltimore County planners are stressing single-family homes and open space rather than townhouse and apartment complexes in their new proposal for the Honeygo area.

The plan, to be unveiled at 7 tonight at Chapel Hill Elementary School, is likely to please residents concerned about the impact of the 3,000-acre planned community but disappoint landowners who wanted higher-density development.

The proposal from the Office of Planning and Zoning calls for 4,259 housing units, 80 percent of which would be single-family homes.

The county already has approved high-density development in the area, at Perry Hall Farms, with an additional 1,155 units, mostly townhouses, apartments and condominiums.

County officials say they hope their Honeygo plan will attract a mix of homebuyers and keep the middle class from leaving the county for better deals elsewhere.

Situated in a sparsely developed area north of Perry Hall, the Honeygo development area is bordered by Belair Road on the west, Philadelphia Road on the east, Gunpowder Falls State Park on the north and Honeygo Run on the south.

Forge and Joppa roads are the main traffic arteries.

If the Planning Board and the County Council adopt the plan, the area's zoning density will have to be reduced. The current zoning allows 10,500 units. For the County Council to change the zoning now would require legislation. Under current law, the council would have to wait for its quadrennial comprehensive rezoning process.

The Honeygo proposal envisions developments built around community centers and parks. Each community center would have townhouses, apartments and a commercial area.

"We wanted to take some of the best features from our rural developments, from neighborhood areas like Stoneleigh, and add in the community center concept found in Old Dundalk," said Wayne Feuerborn, a county planner.

Single-family home prices would range from about $160,000 for homes on quarter-acre lots to $250,000 for larger houses on lots of an acre or more.

Officials say such a price range would fill a void in the current market.

"There was a real price gap between the $100,000 townhouse and the $350,000 new homes being built in the smaller housing developments in the Kingsville or Glen Arm areas north of Honeygo," said County Planning Director P. David Fields.

Mr. Fields said many middle-class homebuyers are looking elsewhere for housing, particularly to Harford County, where lots are larger and new homes are cheaper.

Environmental constraints also made single-family homes more attractive to planners.

"When the zoning was put into place in the early 1980s for the White Marsh/Perry Hall and Owings Mills growth areas, the only environmental restriction dealt with flood plains," said Mr. Feuerborn. "Now we have regulations governing wetlands, streams, buffers, forest cover that dictates where we can and cannot build."

As a result, 30 to 40 percent of the 3,000-acre Honeygo area cannot be used for housing.

Mr. Fields said the county hopes to learn from mistakes it made at Owings Mills and White Marsh, where high-density developments often lack a sense of community and environmental and fiscal constraints have since hindered efforts to put in necessary roads and sewers.

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