Turf Valley's neighbors upset by way planning was handled

May 13, 1994|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Sun Staff Writer

Turf Valley, a huge housing development still on the drawing boards in Ellicott City, finally came out of hibernation yesterday after eight years.

For neighbors who wanted a say in its planning, that was a year too late.

The forum was the county Planning Board, which met to consider technical changes to the planned 1,386-home project of apartments, townhouses and single-family homes.

The session drew about 25 residents of the Turf Valley Overlook vTC subdivision, which borders the site. They learned, to their chagrin, that all of the significant zoning changes affecting the project had been made last year.

"If we would have had proper notice, this room would have been packed," said Candy James, an area resident.

Turf Valley already includes a hotel, conference center and country club with 54 holes of golf.

Until last year, the eastern end of the development, nearest Turf Valley Overlook, was designated for detached houses only.

Last year, that designation was changed to allow apartments and townhouses while lowering the number of homes allowed per acre on the entire site.

The change effectively put the entire Turf Valley project beyond the reach of the Planning Board and the county's adequate public facilities laws, which regulate the roads, schools and other facilities needed to support new developments.

Yesterday, residents of Turf Valley Overlook turned out to have their say on the project, assuming that they still had time to help shape it. Many were upset to learn that last year's zoning change put the project outside the Planning Board's purview.

"A lot of the residents did not have an opportunity to review the plan," said Charles Harris, echoing the comments of several neighbors who complained that they received inadequate notice the Planning Board hearing.

John DeCaris, vice president of the Turf Valley Overlook Section II Homeowners Association, said residents remain worried about their property values, the impact on schools and traffic, and even pressure in public water lines.

Mr. DeCaris also said that such fears could be allayed if community members sat down with the developer, Nicholas Mangione, and discussed his plans.

Planning Director Joseph W. Rutter Jr. attempted to calm fears about the project's impact by noting that the county already has made plans to accommodate the additional traffic and students that Turf Valley will generate.

"The Board of Education has eight years of advance notice that this project is coming," Mr. Rutter said.

Planning Board members told residents that Mr. Mangione will have to get board approval for final development plans showing what kind of residential units would be built.

In addition, the developer will have to come up with "site development plans," which are even more specific, showing such things as lot layout and the location of parking and storm water management systems.

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