Developer makes plea to build townhouses

August 02, 1994|By Joe Mathews | Joe Mathews,Sun Staff Writer

Accusing town and county officials of hypocrisy, a lawyer for a Sykesville developer told the town Planning and Zoning Commission last night that his client should be allowed to build townhouses in an area zoned for industrial use.

Attorney Clark R. Shaffer chided County Planner Helen Spinelli and Sykesville Town Manager James Schumacher for not giving full consideration to a petition for rezoning offered to the commission by the developer of the 32-acre Raincliffe Center, David Moxley.

"I'm sure everyone has come here with an open mind," Mr. Shaffer said, glancing at Mr. Schumacher and commission Chairman Jonathan Herman. Mr. Herman told The Sun last week that a zoning change "would not be at all beneficial."

County and town officials have said the 192 townhouses Mr. Moxley wants to build would put burdens on local roads and schools.

"There are residential permits being approved all across this town, all across this county," Mr. Shaffer said. "If you're going to 'shut it down,' you must 'shut it down' for everybody."

Mr. Moxley said the site has been unattractive to all but a few relatively undesirable businesses, such as equipment storage and heavy industry. He said that despite years of work to attract companies to the parcel, he has been repeatedly turned down, most notably by Wal-Mart.

Ms. Spinelli acknowledged that it often can take decades to persuade companies to build on industrial land, but she said there is a good chance the developer will be able to attract high-tech firms to land convenient to Interstate 70.

In a presentation that lasted more than an hour, Mr. Schumacher, Ms. Spinelli and town engineer Robert Bond argued that a residential development would be an unacceptable deviation from the 1988 master plan adopted by Sykesville.

According to that plan, Mr. Moxley's parcel -- the last undeveloped piece of industrial land inside the town limits -- should be used for industrial developments that yield high tax revenues, officials said.

Mr. Herman said at the beginning of the meeting that there will be no vote on a recommendation to the Town Council until commission members have time to consider the opinions of government officials and residents.

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