New developer plans to accentuate Union Bridge's small town flavor

August 05, 1994|By Traci A. Johnson | Traci A. Johnson,Sun Staff Writer

New hands and new plans are guiding the development of the 171-acre Phillips property on Route 75 in northern Union Bridge.

Baltimore-based land planner D.S. Thaler and Associates Inc. replaces Stanford Management Group Inc., formerly of Howard County, in designing the development of 400-plus units that will double the size of the town.

David S. Thaler, president of D. S. Thaler, said design plans made before his company's involvement in the development are no longer being considered.

"It's a clean slate, and we are in the very earliest stages of our planning," he said. "We are currently analyzing the site features, the physical features such as the forests, wetlands, that sort of thing.

"Once we really have the situation analyzed and understand the town, we will promulgate a plan," he said. "At that point, we will talk informally with the Planning Commission, because we want to let them be involved."

Towson dentist G. Jackson Phillips, who had begun working with a partner to develop his Carroll County land four years ago, hired the Baltimore company when Dr. Phillips became the sole developer of the land, Mr. Thaler said.

Mr. Thaler and other company representatives discussed the development situation Tuesday with the town Planning Commission and Mayor Perry L. Jones Jr.

"We are at the earliest stages of the plans," Mr. Thaler said. "We hope to really do a near-traditional small town plan that builds onto the small town themes we find so charming in Union Bridge."

There are no plans on the table.

The conceptual plan presented in September 1993 by the former land planners is not under consideration.

That plan involved designing the community as "little villages" of single-family houses and townhouses with lots of open space around the residential areas. The entire development was planned to "complement the rest of the town while maintaining its own identity," Dr. Phillips said last year of the project.

The goal of complementing the town is a high priority for Mr. Thaler.

"We have to create something out here that people want to come out to," Mr. Thaler said. "You can find a house in a cul-de-sac just about anywhere. But you have to come to Union Bridge to get the feeling of living in a small town rural environment."

The community will follow what Mr. Thaler called a "neo-traditional" or "traditional neighborhood" design plan.

Mr. Thaler said that instead of a sprawling subdivision, his company will look to small town elements to make the development distinctive.

"Things such as as narrow streets, houses oriented to the street, porches so that people can interact," Mr. Thaler said. "Big houses next to little houses, and maybe some alleys."

Design plans may be about three months down the road, Mr. Thaler said.

"The only concept [for the plan] we have is the lovely little town with Victorian themes," Mr. Thaler said. "And we want to replicate it. The last thing you want to do is destroy it."

Mr. Thaler said his company is excited about the project, something he sees as much different from designing another subdivision.

"We've done thousands of projects, but it's rare when you get to create a town, and that in essence is what we are doing," he said. "We have to really be careful that we improve on what is best about the small town flavor of the town. This is a big responsibility and a privilege."

Though the project is back to its beginning stages, it appears that development may move along on a more efficient schedule.

Workers began drilling yesterday for the well on the property that will fulfill the terms of the 1992 annexation agreement.

According to the agreement, no permits will be issued until a well is drilled to supplement the town's water supply. Development was delayed in part because the developer has failed to provide a water source for the new homes.

Though the well-drilling indicates a good start, Mr. Thaler said that the project is still a long way from completion.

"We need to assess the needs of the community before we can begin to make recommendations," he said. "I think it will be a stately process. It's not going to happen overnight."

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