In Fox Valley, a big development in land preservation

June 09, 1994|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Sun Staff Writer

Foxes are common in Howard County, especially in subdivision names.

Fox Run Estates, Fox Hunt Estates, Foxhall Villas and even Fox Den Farms can be found on the map, names that attempt to give an air of nobility to subdivisions where horses, hounds and huntsman probably haven't been seen for a generation.

At Fox Valley in West Friendship, developer Donald R. Reuwer Jr. is likely to lend some legitimacy to the name.

The 99-home subdivision is already a fox hunting site, and much of it is likely to remain that way, he said.

About 300 acres of the 425-acre subdivision are to be placed in a preservation easement that will prohibit development in perpetuity. The most likely candidate for control of that property is the Howard County-Iron Bridge Hounds, a fox hunting club that already uses the property.

"It would be a very good thing for hunting," said fox chaser Harvey Goolsby of Glenwood, but only as long as hunters and hounds are allowed to use adjoining tracts.

Mr. Goolsby, a member of the Howard County-Iron Bridge ZTC Hounds, noted that such preservation arrangements have been made in Baltimore County in conjunction with the Maryland Environmental Trust.

Mr. Reuwer, builders and county officials broke ground for the subdivision last Thursday and the first set of model homes are expected to be finished in November. The homes, on 1-acre lots, are expected to range from $350,000 to "as high as somebody wants to pay," Mr. Reuwer said.

The property is made up of three farms of the Pfefferkorn, Horde and Harless families and stretches along Route 32 from Pfefferkorn Road to the Middle Patuxent River, and across the river toward Howard County's West Friendship Park site.

The land preserved after the 99 lots are developed will combine with county parkland and land in the county's farmland preservation program to create an area of about 2,000 protected acres between Route 32, Pfefferkorn Road and Route 144, Mr. Reuwer said.

County officials had considered using the preserved land adjacent to the parkland for a public golf course, but Mr. Reuwer said the development was ready to move forward, and the county wasn't.

Building a golf course or a circuit of hunting trails on the property is possible because of the county's western land-use policy.

Subdivisions in West County must be clustered, or planned so that smaller lots are clustered and large areas of open space be preserved in easements. The formula allows one homesite for every 4.25 acres in the entire development.

Fox Valley is the largest such development planned under the new zoning, adopted by County Council members convened as the Zoning Board in 1992.

Previous zoning, which simply required a minimum 3-acre lot size, would not have left much land for fox hunting or anything else, Mr. Reuwer said. "It's not a good size. It's too small to farm and too large to maintain."

Joseph W. Rutter Jr., county planning and zoning director, said the clustering of homes will do much to save what 3-acre lots would have damaged. It will protect environmentally sensitive slopes and flood plain along the Middle Patuxent River, avoid a river crossing, preserve about 150 acres north of the river, and keep homes buffered from nearby farmland.

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